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BIOL 100 DNA Extraction Lab Exercise

BIOL 100 DNA Extraction Lab Exercise

BIOL 100 DNA Extraction Lab Exercise 

Deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA) is the fundamental unit of life. The DNA of each individual and each organism is different and can hold answers to many scientific and forensic questions. Being able to extract DNA from a piece of tissue is an important technique used in scientific and forensic labs worldwide. In this exercise, you will be learning how to extract DNA from strawberries using common household solutions for an inexpensive method of obtaining DNA. Follow the instructions and methodology listed below. Work individually or in pairs.

Materialsper student:

       I.          Liquid Dish Detergent

     II.          NaCl (table salt)

    III.          70% Isopropanol

   IV.          40% ethanol (Rum/Vodka)

     V.          1 Ziploc Bag

   VI.          2 Fresh Strawberries

  VII.          Strainer and piece of cheesecloth

VIII.          2 red paper cups

    IX.          2 clear plastic cups

    X.          Pineapple juice 


1.     Fill your first red cup with water and add just a few squeezes of liquid dish detergent. 

2.     Add three pinches of salt to your dish detergent solution and pour this solution inside your Ziploc bag. You now have a DNA Extraction Buffer. 

3.     Place your strawberry in the Ziploc bag and seal the bag. Ensure to remove all air from the bag. 

4.     Using your hands, mash up the strawberries with your extraction buffer for about five minutes. 

5.     Pour the resulting strawberry solution through the cheesecloth and strainer into your second red cup. Avoid large chunks from seeping through. 

6.     Transfer your solution to a clear cup. Perform this step very slowly to prevent any foam or large particles from entering your cup. Only fill the cup half way. 

7.     Use your second clear cup to transfer cold alcohol to your solution. To do this step, tip your cup so to not disturb the strawberry solution and add slowly. 

8.     A precipitate forms at the junction between the two solutions. The precipitate appears to be white, almost like spider webs. 

9.     For your comparative edible extraction: use a cup full of pineapple juice, three pinches of salt, and one strawberry (previously frozen to lyse the cells). Do not use dish soap. Repeat steps 3 to 6. For step 7, use Jack Daniels instead of isopropanol. Did a precipitate form? 

10.       You may use your fork to pull the precipitate out, touch it, and analyze it.

DNA Extraction Worksheet 

1.     Do plants contain DNA? What does this tell you about the foods we eat? 

2.     What was the purpose of the detergent in your protocol? What about the NaCl? 

3.     Do dead cells contain DNA? How long can DNA survive before it is degraded? 

4.     What was the purpose of mashing the strawberries? What structure in the plant cell provides rigidity and support? 

5.     What happened when you added the filtrate to the alcohol? Describe the mechanism with regards to polarity. 

6.     What did the DNA look like? Does this match your prediction? 

7.     A person cannot see a single cotton thread four classrooms away. But if you wound thousands of threads together into a rope, it would be visible at the same distance. How is this statement an analogy to our DNA extraction? 

8.     What is the ploidy of strawberries? How does this make them a good candidate for studying DNA? 

9.     Why is it important for scientists to be able to remove DNA from an organism? List two reasons. 

10.  Did your edible extraction yield any DNA? If not, what could be some possible reasons? (hint: think about the concentrations of alcohols) 


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