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Joe Baker, Sholto Gillie, Tavishi Kanwar, Tamsin McKinnon, Eloise Most and Finn Strivens
Highgate School, London, UK
The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was developed in 1983 and is an important technique used to amplify targeted sections of DNA. It has revolutionised the field of molecular biology but it is not commonly performed in school laboratories. The aim of our project was to use PCR to amplify a specific region of the Drosophila melanogaster genome, specifically an intragenic region on the 3R chromosome that is duplicated on the Y chromosome. Drosophila melanogaster is an important model organism in biology, and our initial efforts focused on the analysis of the results of specific crosses, in order to gain a greater understanding of how to handle the flies and to study patterns of inheritance. Following this, DNA was extracted from the flies using two separate methods and its effectiveness as a template for PCR was studied. The method as stated in Gloor et al. was more successful, since a band of the predicted size was observed when a sample of the PCR reaction was run on an agarose gel and visualised with FastBlast stain. Further experiments were performed to optimise the conditions for the PCR reaction, with the concentration of template, concentration of primers and number of cycles being adjusted accordingly. More recently, efforts have focused on using the same reaction to compare results from DNA extracted from different organisms, to see if the primers are specific to the Drosophila melanogaster genome. This work has been produced as part of the Researcher in Residence project. Dr Teresa Niccoli of the Institute of Healthy Ageing at UCL provided the flies, initial assistance in setting up and analysing the results of the crosses and the PCR primers.