Daily tips and tricks from the experts at Adafruit!
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minipcrPCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) machines are used to amplify, copy and test DNA. The DIY versions have become widely accessible in the last four years. You can purchase a kit or roll your own without breaking the bank. These machines oscillate the temperature ~30x between 94C, 60C and 72C. During each cycle each strand of DNA makes a copy of itself.  Producing 2^30 copies after 30 cycles. This is called amplification.

A PCR machine is a core tool in any bio lab. There are many applications for them including detecting infections and safety testing. Some of the more humorous uses have been the 2008 NYT story about Sushi fraud in grocery stores and restaurants. My personal favorite example of using a PCR is in this video below. Tito Jankowski of BioCurious (OpenPCR and Pearl Biotech) asks people at Maker Faire “Who Hates Brussels Sprouts?” then proceeds to show them examples of the bitterness marker in DNA. Admittedly this takes an additional step of getting into gel electrophoresis to see the marker.

Here are some PCRs options for the DIY market:

 

Sources:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Arduino-PCR-thermal-cycler-for-under-85/

http://www.scq.ubc.ca/the-macgyver-project-genomic-dna-extraction-and-gel-electrophoresis-experiments-using-everyday-materials/

Knowing New Biotechnologies: Social Aspects of Technological Convergence