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 electrophoresis thought experiement (could it work?) 
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Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 5:26 am
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Post electrophoresis thought experiement (could it work?)
I've been browsing various sites for info regarding gel electrophoresis. Seems like it would be a good first experiment for an IRL diybio-esque meeting.

Anywho, I was thinking that it would be cool if you could somehow rig up a scanner to scan the image of the gel by replacing the fluroescent tube with a uv light source. Something like a bank of reptile lights. There are also leds available in the proper range, but from what i've seen online, those can cost up to $200 a piece! I would think that this would scan the proper image.

I think the end of my train of thought was supposed to be some sort of autonomous electrophoresis device that when given a sample of dna, sets up and runs the gel, then sends a scanned image to some sort of program on the computer for further processing or whatever.

Is this feasible? unrealistic? Let me know what you think.

NOTE: This idea assumes that a UV fluorescent stain (ethidium bromide) is being used. I've also noticed that some project use a color dye stain which wouldn't work for this idea (mabye if you kept the normal scanning light and there was some mechanism to use the proper light for each stain type).


Sat Sep 06, 2008 3:38 am
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Post Re: electrophoresis thought experiement (could it work?)
Could you do this with just a scanner that used a blue or UV bulb instead of white light? This sounds like something that could be hacked... unless they don't sell scanner bulbs in blue/UV, which I'm betting they don't.

You would also need some method of varying the time of light exposure. Depending on how well your gel is stained and how much DNA is in your bands, you can get massive variation in the amount of time necessary to get a 'good' image. At my day job, using quality reagents and running fairly consistent amounts of DNA, I've had exposure times vary from one to ten seconds. With smaller samples or less pure gels it might be a lot more variable.

I don't actually know anything about how scanners work, so I have no idea if this is feasible.


Sat Aug 01, 2009 8:36 am
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Post Re: electrophoresis thought experiement (could it work?)
Why not just rig it to take a photograph, invert the colours and use that? That's what we do at uni. You'd have to be careful with lighting conditions, but there's no reason a computer couldn't use it, is there?


Thu Aug 06, 2009 12:17 pm
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Post Re: electrophoresis thought experiement (could it work?)
Alioth wrote:
Could you do this with just a scanner that used a blue or UV bulb instead of white light? This sounds like something that could be hacked... unless they don't sell scanner bulbs in blue/UV, which I'm betting they don't.

You would also need some method of varying the time of light exposure. Depending on how well your gel is stained and how much DNA is in your bands, you can get massive variation in the amount of time necessary to get a 'good' image. At my day job, using quality reagents and running fairly consistent amounts of DNA, I've had exposure times vary from one to ten seconds. With smaller samples or less pure gels it might be a lot more variable.

I don't actually know anything about how scanners work, so I have no idea if this is feasible.


You're right about the scanner bulb. Ive been thinking about other options. I believe that ionic air purifiers have a UV tube, but I think that they operate on too strong a wavelength for use with a gel (A quick glance on Google showed transilluminators to operate in around 305-320 nm and ionic air purifiers to operate around 250 nm) UV LEDs have also come down since I last made that post. Not a lot, but some.

I'm curious about the light exposure though. It's something I hadn't given much thought to. What are the factors you consider when determining how long to expose your gel?




clouded_perception wrote:
Why not just rig it to take a photograph, invert the colours and use that? That's what we do at uni. You'd have to be careful with lighting conditions, but there's no reason a computer couldn't use it, is there?


Good thought, also hadn't considered that. Probably would go with the scanner though because I already have an old one that I'm using. How long do you set your exposure time too? Also, what kind of stain are you using?


Tue Nov 10, 2009 11:29 pm
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Post Re: electrophoresis thought experiement (could it work?)
At the university we also have something like a scanner, I think its pretty simple. UV light, camera plus filter. Works perfectly. Here is an image I made from an E. coli plasmid:

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Tue Nov 17, 2009 5:00 pm
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Post Re: electrophoresis thought experiement (could it work?)
Im sorry I dont know how to upload it:S If you want to see i can send it somehow else.

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Tue Nov 17, 2009 5:01 pm
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