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DNA blueprint of life

DNA is the blueprint for life, and we are surrounded by it, it is everywhere. When we prepare a meal, like cutting vegetables or slicing meat, there is DNA galore. The lettuce in the salad bowl has lettuce DNA oozing from it, the sliced meat before you fry it is coated with DNA. Where there is life on this planet, there is DNA.

The DNA code

The DNA code is made up of four chemical bases, adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine in a particular linear order. The DNA code of lettuce is very different from meat DNA. The unique order of the bases makes the lettuce and not a steak. The order of your DNA makes you human and not a skunk, thank goodness for that!

A needle in a haystack

We are all familiar with the expression “looking for a needle in a haystack”. It describes trying to find something when there is a huge amount of other stuff present. It's extremely difficult to find a single needle in a bale of straw. But imagine if you could get that one tiny needle that is somewhere in a bale of straw to multiply itself so that there are now a billion needles. If there are a billion needles, then you will be easily able to say that this bale has needles and this other bale does not have needles.

Searching for the invisible

We use this multiplying principle to detect tiny amounts of DNA in a sample.  If we want to know if the bacteria E. coli is present in a water sample, we need to go searching for that needle in the haystack.  We need to use molecular tools to hunt out and answer the question, is there evidence that this bacteria’s DNA is present in this water sample. We must try to make a billion copies of a unique DNA sequence that belongs to that bacteria. When we do that, it becomes obvious whether it is there or not.

DNAiTECH to detect DNA

A molecular biologist uses molecular tools to answer questions in biology. When you use the DNAiTECH you are using molecular technologies to search for a DNA sequence. So how does DNAitech work, how does it find that needle in the haystack? We use a series of very specific short sequences of DNA called primers that match to a highly specific region of the DNA of interest. We use a molecular nanomachine, an enzyme called BST2 to make a billion copies of the target DNA. If the target DNA is present in the sample, the BST2 will find it and copy it.  In a short time, we have the answer, millions of copies of the target sequence. And the DNAiTECH and its App can measure the DNA being copied.

DNA code
A needle in a haystack.
E. coli bacteria.
a DNAiTECH portable isothermal amplification device.

Science &  technology are  awesome


Let’s do some

molecular biology


Empowered through biotechnology


Smartphone-based DNA detection


Become a gene jockey


Environmental damage


What’s that shit in this stream, cow, bird or human?

Collect data


Establish facts


Present your results


CSI comes to the classroom

Read about the students project at Haeata Community College in Christchurch, June 2020 >>>

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