What is gel electrophoresis used for?

Answer

Gel electrophoresis is used to test for genes related to specific illnesses, to identify DNA associated with crime scenes, to discover paternity and to track evolutionary relationships. This technique is important in medical, biological and criminal science.

To perform gel electrophoresis, a scientist places a solution of DNA molecules in a gel matrix of agarose. DNA has an electric charge, making it possible to pull the genetic material through the gel using an electric field. The small molecules move faster than the large ones, which creates the characteristic banded pattern that scientists compare with other patterns to determine similarity or difference. Viewers of "CSI," "Law & Order" and other detective shows are familiar with these charts, for they are often depicted as important pieces of evidence in such crime dramas.

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What Can Gel Electrophoresis Be Used For?
By applying an electric current to a gel matrix, scientists are able to separate deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), ribonucleic acid (RNA) or protein molecules. Once these are separated, a photo is taken of the gel, providing a picture of the separated... More »
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A gel electrophoresis chamber is an enclosed space in which molecules such as proteins, DNA or RNA fragments can be separated according to size and electrical ...
The function of loading dye in electrophoresis is to allow the DNA sample to sink into the wells of the gel and to allow scientists to visually track the DNA sample ...
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