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Nucleic Acid Dipstick

December 4, 2017

Scientists develop a device that can purify genetic material from any organism right in the field.



Low-tech DNA extraction. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Extracting DNA from cells has traditionally been a labor-intensive process, requiring a laboratory full of specialized equipped. But now, scientists report in the journal PLOS Biology that they’ve developed a dipstick made out of cellulose that extracts DNA from animals, plants, and potential pathogens in less than a minute. University of Queensland molecular biologist Jimmy Botella explains that the dipstick works by binding to nucleic acids in the DNA, which can then be amplified for study.

JIMMY BOTELLA (University of Queensland):

We can do everything in the field, we don’t need to bring anything to the lab. That actually means that you can take it to places like the middle of a jungle.


Botella envisions the dipstick as a low-cost tool for medical testing, agricultural analysis, and conservation work in developing countries where labs are scarce. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard