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A comparison of DNA stains and staining methods for Agarose Gel Electrophoresis

By Andie C. Hall

Posted 06 Mar 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/568253

Nucleic acid stains are necessary for Agarose Gel Electrophoresis (AGE). The commonly used but mutagenic Ethidium Bromide is being usurped by a range of safer but more expensive alternatives. These safe stains vary in cost, sensitivity and the impedance of DNA as it migrates through the gel. Modified protocols developed to reduce cost increase this variability. In this study, five Gel stains (GelRed™, GelGreen™, SYBR™ safe, SafeView and EZ-Vision®In-Gel Solution) two premixed loading dyes (SafeWhite, EZ-Vision®One) and four methods (pre-loading at 100x, pre-loading at 10x, precasting and post-staining) are evaluated for sensitivity and effect on DNA migration. GelRed™ was found to be the most sensitive while the EZ-Vision® dyes and SafeWhite had no discernible effect on DNA migration. Homemade loading dyes were as effective as readymade ones at less than 4% of the price. This method used less than 1% of the dye needed for the manufacturer recommended protocols. Thus, with careful consideration of stain and method, Gel stain expenditure can be reduced by over 99%.

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