What is gel electrophoresis?

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What is gel electrophoresis?

Gel Electrophoresis is a technique for separation of molecules like deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA and ribonucleic acid or RNA. The protein molecules are contained in a gel and they are subjected to some form of electric current to cause movement and separation. This technique is said to be helpful in the analysis of the molecular components of living organisms.

The process of electrophoresis involves a block of gel put in a holding tank. This gel is supposed to have a neutral charge. The tank is then filled with a buffer solution. The tank also has wells at its edges which contain the DNA and RNA samples for experimentation. Once electric current is applied onto the tank that holds the gel, the protein molecules will now move through the gel and start to separate. Usually the small ones travel more quickly than the larger molecules.

There are many industries and fields of science that take advantage of this inexpensive and effective molecular separation procedure. One such field is Forensics. In this discipline, gel electrophoresis can help in determining a criminal’s DNA through his fingerprint on the crime scene. With details of the DNA on the crime scene, investigators will find it easier to compare it with the DNA of several suspects.

Other fields that use gel electrophoresis are Molecular Biology – for their constant study on DNAs and RNAs, Genetics – for DNA structure analysis, genetic engineering, and/or cloning, and Microbiology – for in-depth studies on possible viral strains that may help in the diagnosis of certain diseases. The field of biochemistry also uses gel electrophoresis in the study of various cell components like nucleic acids and proteins.

Gel Electrophoresis is considered a very powerful way to separate molecules for the purpose of detailed analysis and research. It is also said to be inexpensive and more reliable when compared with other conventional molecular separation methods.

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