November 13, 2013
My AP® Biology and Pre-AP® Biology classes used the PASCO Mitochondrial Genetics Kits to perform gel electrophoresis. And I am always skeptical when using a kit for the first time, fearing a shortage of materials, hard-to-understand directions, or performance other than what was promised. The PASCO Mitochondrial Genetics Kit delivered more than I expected! Included in the kit was enough agarose gel powder to make extra gels to replace any gels damaged during the lab (students made the gels before the lab). The instructions were easy to understand and follow.
The QuickStrip DNA™ samples were pre-dyed, and the foil top on each sample made them easy to access with a micropipet without danger of spilling the contents. There was more than enough buffer concentrate to make the gels and fill the electrophoresis chambers. The InstaStain™ card was easy to use with much less mess than using liquid stain. And the results were spectacular. Every group had beautiful bands that were clear and easy to read. For a pre-lab activity, we read and analyzed the background material included in the kit. This gave students an opportunity to review several concepts from prior units, not just biotechnology. We examined sample pedigrees to find patterns of inheritance.There are always a few twists that will make it easier for first time users. Do not expect your gels to look exactly like the sample in the teacher information part of the instructions (in reality, the bands are closer together). For my students, we found that running the gels at 120 V for 20 minutes was ideal. With less time the marker bands were not as distinct, but the other bands were great. The InstaStain cards (I will NEVER use liquid dye again) need to stay on the gels for at least 20 minutes; it only took two rinses to clean the extra dye. If your bands do not show, wait 10 minutes. I do not know if our gels were too thick or not, but it took the extra 10 minutes for the dye to completely work through so that the DNA was highlighted. The resulting bands were easy to read and measure. I have preserved the gels by allowing them to air dry on a plastic plate for three days. I hope I can keep them in this manner until next year!
This review comes from Ms. Reeser, AP® Biology Instructor at Corner High School in Dora, Alabama.
The mitochondrial genetics kit was also featured in the American Biology Teacher journal.
Teaching Mitochondrial Genetics Disease: A GENA Project Curriculum Intervention
Ryan A. Reardon and J. Daniel Sharer
The American Biology Teacher , Vol. 74, No. 4 (April 2012), pp. 224-230
Mitochondrial Genetics Kit: BP-6946
Includes: QuickStrip™ DNA Samples (6 strips) containing Standard DNA Marker (40 mL) and DNA Samples (40 mL each); UltraSpecAgarose™ Powder (3.0 g); Electrophoresis Buffer 50x (60 mL); InstaStain™ Blue Card (6); Graduated Transfer Pipet (1); Transfer Pipet (10); Student Lab Activity