The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR): a technique used to amplify targeted sections of DNA

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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.

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