Squishy Science: Extract DNA from Smashed Strawberries

DNA, the blueprint for all living organisms, can be extracted using simple household chemicals. In this activity, we will show you how to extract DNA from strawberries. Not only will this give you a glimpse into the fascinating world of genetics, but it will also provide a fun and educational experience.

Understanding DNA Extraction

DNA is found in the cells of all living organisms. Scientists rely on DNA extraction kits to extract DNA from cells. During the extraction process, a detergent causes the cell to open up, releasing the DNA into a solution. Alcohol is then added to the solution, causing the DNA to precipitate out.

Strawberries are an ideal choice for this activity because each strawberry cell contains eight copies of the genome, resulting in a large amount of DNA per cell. Most organisms only have one copy of the genome per cell.

Strawberries

Materials Needed

To extract DNA from strawberries, you will need the following materials:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Measuring cup and spoons
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Dishwashing liquid (for hand-washing dishes)
  • Glass or small bowl
  • Cheesecloth
  • Funnel
  • Tall drinking glass
  • Three strawberries
  • Resealable plastic sandwich bag
  • Small glass jar (such as a spice or baby food jar)
  • Bamboo skewer (or a toothpick)

Procedure

Follow these steps to extract DNA from strawberries:

  1. Chill the rubbing alcohol in the freezer.
  2. Mix half a teaspoon of salt, one third cup of water, and one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid in a glass or small bowl. This mixture will be the extraction liquid.
  3. Completely line the funnel with cheesecloth and insert the funnel into the tall drinking glass.
  4. Remove and discard the green tops from the strawberries.
  5. Put the strawberries into a resealable plastic sandwich bag and squeeze out all the air before sealing it.
  6. Squeeze and smash the strawberries in the bag for two minutes.
  7. Add three tablespoons of the extraction liquid to the bag of strawberries, squeeze out the air, and seal the bag.
  8. Squeeze the strawberry mixture with your fingers for one minute.
  9. Pour the strawberry mixture from the bag into the funnel, letting it drip through the cheesecloth and into the tall glass until only wet pulp remains in the funnel.
  10. Pour the filtered strawberry liquid from the tall glass into the small glass jar, filling it one-quarter of the way.
  11. Measure out half a cup of cold rubbing alcohol.
  12. Slowly pour the alcohol down the side of the jar, tilting it, until a one-inch layer of alcohol forms on top of the strawberry liquid. Do not let the two liquids mix.
  13. Observe the mixture inside the jar. You should see gooey, clear/white stringy strands of strawberry DNA.
  14. Dip the bamboo skewer into the area where the strawberry liquid and alcohol layers meet and gently pull it up, collecting any DNA strands that stick to the skewer.
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Extra Experiments

If you want to take your DNA extraction experiments further, here are some additional ideas:

  • Try using oatmeal or kiwis instead of strawberries. Which food gives you the most DNA?
  • Measure the amount of DNA you extract using a milligram scale. What is your yield of DNA?
  • Experiment with different variables such as the amount of strawberries, type of detergent, or DNA sources. Which conditions give you the best DNA yield?

FAQs

Q: Can I use other fruits instead of strawberries?

A: You can certainly try using other fruits like kiwis or even vegetables like tomatoes. However, strawberries are recommended because they contain a higher amount of DNA per cell.

Q: Is it safe to consume the extracted DNA?

A: The DNA extraction process uses household chemicals and is not intended for consumption. The extracted DNA is purely for educational purposes.

Q: Can I use this DNA extraction method on other materials?

A: While this method is specifically designed for extracting DNA from strawberries, you can experiment with other materials like oatmeal or kiwis. Keep in mind that the DNA yield may vary.

Conclusion

DNA extraction from strawberries provides an exciting avenue to explore the world of genetics. By following these simple steps, you can extract DNA from strawberries and marvel at the fascinating world hidden within these tiny fruits. Remember to always conduct experiments safely and enjoy the wonders of science!

This article is brought to you by Tims Family Farm, where we prioritize clean, organic, and nutritious farming practices for all your fruit needs.

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