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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 7 Issue 5 (2002) pp 284-287

Determination of DNA Bases Using Electrochemistry: A Discovery-Based Experiment

Sean C. Brooks and Mark M. Richter*

Department of Chemistry, Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield, MO 65804-0089
Received June 25, 2002. Accepted August 25, 2002

Published online: 13 September 2002

Abstract. A discovery-based experiment is presented for use in undergraduate analytical and biochemistry courses. The experiment uses electrochemical techniques (e.g., cyclic, linear-sweep, and/or square-wave voltammetry) to detect the presence of DNA bases in solution. Working individually or in teams, students must develop a method for the detection of adenine(A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) and thymine (T) in aqueous samples. They are given only topical information about their project and must research and plan the analyses, learn the instrumental methods to be used, and prepare an experimental protocol that will be “validated” by another individual/team during a subsequent laboratory. Goals of this approach include introducing students to various electrochemical techniques and having them research how these techniques are being used to determine and study biologically relevant analytes. Another goal is to place students in the position of being scientists and having to make decisions and recommendations. Each step of the analytical process must be carefully considered and its significance assessed because there are no “recipes” to follow as they develop their methods and make comparisons between different electrochemical techniques for the determination of analytes.

Key Words:  Laboratories and Demonstrations; analytical chemistry; biochemistry; electrochemistry; DNA

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (229 KB) HTML format

Supporting Materials:

Three supporting files are contained in a single Zip file (171 KB): a laboratory handout for students, an oral quiz, and progress report guidelines 10.1007/ s0089702595b.

Issue date: October 1, 2002

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