Wizard-genes-protocol (1).doc - The Wonderful Wizardry of Finding a Gene Introduction Pupils have a great interest in all things forensic particularly

Wizard-genes-protocol (1).doc - The Wonderful Wizardry of...

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The Wonderful Wizardry of Finding a Gene Introduction Pupils have a great interest in all things forensic, particularly as a result of watching such TV programmes as CSI. Many pupils are therefore likely to have heard of DNA profiling, and may be curious to find out more. Besides its use in solving crimes, it can also be used to: track the evolution of living organisms and movements of species; study genetic diversity; carry out gene profiling; and establish human relationships (e.g. in paternity or immigration issues). DNA profiling makes use of the technique of gel electrophoresis, whereby large molecules of the same type within a mixture (in this case DNA) can be separated by size on the application of an electrical voltage. The gel is porous and so small molecules can move faster through the gel than large ones. Small molecules therefore travel further in a given time. Molecules of the same size travel the same distance and form a band on the gel. These bands of DNA can be stained to make them visible, so that the pattern of the bands can be assessed. In the case of DNA, the familiar ‘DNA fingerprint’ so often seen in the media, is characteristic of a particular individual. Hence its usefulness in the areas outlined above. The aim of this activity is to allow pupils to carry out simple gel electrophoresis in order to simulate DNA Profiling. The protocol uses mixtures of food colouring instead of DNA. On application of a voltage across the gel, the mixtures separate into bands of their individual colours. Each colour represents a gene for a ‘magic power’ so that this fun protocol allows pupils to identify the ‘magic power genes’ possessed by each of the wizards. Setting up the Activity For this activity, you need electrophoresis tanks, four-well combs, leads, carbon fibre electrodes, batteries or transformer, agar, water, mixtures of food colourings and micropipettes. Agar, water and mixtures of food colourings are used instead of the more expensive agarose, buffers and DNA required for DNA fingerprinting.
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  • Fall '17
  • William Heywood

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