Maker Faire

Thank you everyone who came out to visit us at Maker Faire!

Here’s a great video of our booth put together by Jeri Ellsworth. Thanks, Jeri!


7 thoughts on “Maker Faire

  1. Ecir

    Wait a second…


    But I’m not sure if I understood all of it, could you please explain a thing or two to me? I’m total biotech noob.

    You plug Arduino into your computer, it controls the box you built which heats and cools DNA 30 times, ok. What should be the temperature range? I didn’t understand – where do I get my DNA from? A spit? And I guess there has to be some kind of chemical which enables the DNA to copy itself over and over – what is it? Where can I buy it? Can I “cook” it at home? Then, I put that grown mix into another box with the gelatin and turn on the electricity and it somehow separates/sorts it by size, ok (what’s so special about the “special” power source?). What is the gelatin for? But the thing I don’t understand most – what do I do then? Look at the sample through microscope? How do I find the “strands” (?) responsible for the ability to taste the thing you were talking about? How do I scan whether a sushi I bought is proper one? I mean, I can somehow image you can boil DNA and wire it up to a 9V battery – but how do I get that nice blue picture shown on your PowerBook and, more importantly, if I take a huge picture of the goo under microscope, how do I make any sense of it?

    Awww, sorry, I feel like stupid to ask such questions but it is complete magic to me!

  2. Ecir

    Nice tutorials, thanks for the links! They answer a lot of my questions.

    If I understood correctly, the key thing is to obtain the primers which mark the parts of DNA responsible for tasting Brussels sprouts. I presume, one needs a “DNA constructor” for these which is a bit complex device to be build at home.

    Please, I have two more questions: how many primers may I add to one DNA sample and why the are more than one strand (white line) in a column while looking at the gel?

    In other words, I thought when I use two primers (begin, end), PCR replicates just one, exactly the same part, many times over. So if I want to test for features whose DNA parts span over many different areas am I allowed to add more primers to the sample or do I have to use more samples each with just two primes? For example, to check what kind of fish a sample comes from?
    And second question, if I used just two primers (Brussels sprouts) I would expect the gel would would show just one strand (DNA part found) or none at all. But in the video, some of the samples had more than one strand – is it because the chemical reactions work only up to some probability and there always comes some debris too, or do the chemicals break the DNA further? Do they break the DNA always at the same places?

  3. tito Post author

    Hi Ecir,

    In a standard protocol you add 2 sets of primers (begin,end) as you pointed out. There are other protocols that use more, but I’m not experienced with them.

    So, multiple strands? Here’s 2 good reasons I can think of:

    1. If you choose primers that are not specific to one region, they may copy DNA from several areas in the genome. For instance, if your two primers are AAT and TTA, that patten appears many times in the human genome so you’ll end up with several areas of different sizes being copied. That means when you put the DNA in a gel, you’ll see several bands.

    2. If you do choose primers that are specific to one region, you plan to get only one band. For our SNP experiment, we’ve planned it so you get a band whether you have the bitter tasting SNP or not. The next step is to add a chemical called a restriction enzyme which can cut the DNA, depending on the sequence you copied. This will make more sense if you read this starter guide for PCR of SNPs by Carolina.

    Awesome questions, I love my job :)


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