Illustration of DNA for article on DNA testing labs.
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Published On: April 11th, 2023Categories: Articles, DNA, PCR/DNA Extraction and Purification
DNA testing is widely used today in DNA testing laboratories for several applications. Persons can purchase a take-home DNA test to learn more about their heritage and ancestry. Government officials can apprehend criminals based on matches between DNA found at crime scenes and stored in DNA databases. Patients can undergo genetic testing to see if they may be at risk for certain genetic disorders, such as sickle cell disease, or other diseases such as cancer.A DNA testing laboratory needs special equipment and software to perform any DNA testing needed. This can include large pieces of equipment, such as thermocyclers, accessories, such as pipettes, and management systems software. If you’re just setting up your lab, read on to learn more about the equipment you’ll need to ensure your lab is safe, efficient, and accurate.

General DNA Processes

Even if you’ve assembled an extremely smart team, having the right equipment in your DNA testing laboratory can make or break your success. This equipment is available to make your job easier, more efficient, and deliver more accurate results. A DNA lab requires various pieces of equipment because of the many processes used when analyzing DNA. For example, in forensics, analyzing DNA generally involves:

  • The isolation of DNA from a sample and the isolation of the DNA from a test sample 
  • Processing of DNA to receive test results
  • Determining any variations in the DNA in specific regions
  • Interpreting and comparing the results from the two (known and unknown) DNA samples

Every DNA testing type has slightly different processes, but all require the best equipment for the DNA testing laboratory.

Must-have Lab Tools for a DNA Testing Laboratory

If you’re starting from the ground up, you’ll need everything from accessories, such as pipettes, to large pieces of automated laboratory equipment. Below is a list of what you’d need for a successful DNA testing laboratory, but it is not comprehensive.

  • Thermocycler. This machine holds a block of tubes that contain a DNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) mixture. It lowers or raises the temperature, which can split and amplify DNA. This allows for DNA replication and multiple copies of the same strand.
  • PCR machines. A PCR machine allows you to conduct various DNA tests simultaneously. This is useful when you want to continue to test without the risk of damage to the original sample.
  • Restriction enzymes. Using restriction enzymes can help researchers “zoom in.” These are used when one wants to look at a single segment of DNA. The restriction enzymes separate the other strands from the strand to be studied. If a researcher sees a mutation, restriction enzymes also offer the ability to see the mutation more closely.
  • Gel electrophoresis machine. One of the best reasons to have the right equipment is the ability for the equipment to work together and integrate. For example, a PCR machine helps scientists perform multiple tests to see the big picture, restriction enzymes help see close up, and gel electrophoresis machines take film of the findings for further study. There is only so much you can see with the human eye, and the precise photos of the gel electrophoresis machine help one see closely.
  • DNA isolation kits. Processes such as cloning, sequencing, and library preparation require plasmid DNA purification. Ready-to-use plasmid purification kits are a great addition to the lab, as they extract high-quality plasmids from fungal and bacterial cell types.
  • DNA analyzer. This piece of equipment detects particular nucleotide sequences. The sequencing and analyzing of DNA fragments is performed using capillary electrophoresis. Capillary electrophoresis causes negatively-charged DNA to migrate, which helps to separate DNA fragments. Essentially, it allows a researcher to match a different sample if necessary.

Depending on your particular needs for your DNA testing laboratory, you’ll need other accessories. You may want to invest in further equipment, such as pipettes and pipette tips, centrifuges, hybridization ovens, electrophoresis systems, spectrophotometers, purification methods for extracting DNA, water baths, dry baths, cold storage, and stirrers, among other things.

Not every lab has every piece of equipment; it depends on your individual needs, but investing in automated equipment for your DNA testing laboratory can help promote efficiency and accuracy.

Contact Hudson Robotics to discuss options for automating your DNA testing laboratory to find the lab equipment that perfectly meets your needs.