Isolation of plant DNA made easier, with new kit

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Scientists at the Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding (IFGTB) in the city have come up with a kit, ‘ArborEasy’, which enables the isolation of DNA from tree tissue samples cheaper, easier and more efficient. Isolation of DNA from tissue samples is a key process which is used from the most basic biotechnology applications to the most complicated processes. It is used to establish the diversity between populations, authenticate a species and in timber forensics.

The process of DNA isolation involves treating the tissue sample from a species in chemical solutions called ‘buffers’, which is put in a column (a small container) and processing them in a centrifuge, which isolates the DNA. Earlier, this process was done manually, which would take almost a day. Later, there were several commercial kits which simplified the DNA isolation process.

But these kits worked well only for commercial crops such as rice, tomato or cotton. “When it came to tree tissue samples, most of these commercial kits usually don’t yield results as trees have certain chemical compounds called secondary metabolites, which tamper with the reactions,” said Modhumita Dasgupta, a scientist at the department of plant biotechnology in IFGTB, who was part of a group of scientists which devised the kit. Dasgupta said they have introduced an extra buffer solution in the kit which would remove secondary metabolites from tree tissues, thus giving pure DNA samples.

She added that they first devised the protocol for their own laboratory use. They had patented it in 2009. Last year, the institute registered the trademark ArborEasy. The ready-to-use kit was launched on January 24.

Dasgupta said those kits which yielded results for tree tissue samples were expensive. “It cost around Rs200 to Rs300 for one reaction. But we have brought it down to Rs95 per reaction,” Dasgupta said. Also the kit gives a high amount of DNA compared to other commercial kits, she said.

“In one reaction, our kit yields the amount of DNA other commercial kits yield in two,” she said. “In case of difficult tissues, our kits yield DNA, when others give none,” she added.

The kit isolates DNA from tissue samples in just around 90 minutes, said Dasgupta. She added that the DNA isolated using the kit has very high purity and a longer shelf-life, Dasgupta said. “The DNA isolated using the kit can be used for experiments. We have used it for sequencing sandalwood genome,” she added.

The institute is also planning to commercialize the innovation, officials said. “DNA isolation kits have a huge market today. Almost every college has students who do projects which involve DNA isolation at some level,” Dasgupta said.

For the first time, the institute has been planning to market the product in e-commerce portals, said S Murugesan, scientist and group coordinator for research, IFGTB. “We also have asked for a seed funding to set up a unit in the institute to produce the kits commercially,” he said.

Source- The Times of India

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