Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Spinal tap -- using cactus spines to isolate DNA

Date:
March 5, 2013
Source:
American Journal of Botany
Summary:
In the family Cactaceae, isolation of genetic material can be difficult due to the presence of polysaccharide-based mucilage content and other secondary compounds. Although important for water storage, these compounds necessitate the use of toxic chemicals and numerous modifications to DNA extraction protocols. Scientists have now developed a novel method for isolation of DNA using cactus spines.

Isolation of DNA from some organisms is a routine procedure. For example, you can buy a kit at your local pharmacy or grocery store that allows you to swab the inside of your cheek and send the sample for DNA sequencing. However, for other organisms, DNA extraction is much more problematic. Researchers at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona, have developed a novel procedure that greatly simplifies genomic DNA isolation from cactus tissue.

Related Articles


For members of the family Cactaceae, isolation of genetic material can be difficult due to the presence of polysaccharide-based mucilage content and other secondary compounds. Although important for water storage, these compounds necessitate the use of toxic chemicals and numerous modifications to protocols for DNA extraction. Lead author Shannon D. Fehlberg and colleagues describe a novel method for isolation of DNA using cactus spines in the March issue of Applications in Plant Sciences.

"I had worked with getting DNA out of cactus in the past where you use pieces of the epidermis, but it was messy and difficult to sample. It was also difficult to deal with in the lab because of the mucilage," says Fehlberg. "Now you can snip a spine and, while you have to grind the spine up, it is easy to collect and easy to store and you can follow the manufacturer's protocols for extraction -- simplifying both the field and genetic work."

Considered to be modified leaves, spines contain significantly less mucilage content compared to other tissues commonly used for sampling in Cactaceae. Additionally, removal of cactus spines is less invasive than sampling epidermal tissue, which can damage plants and expose the underlying soft tissue to pathogens.

"Although you can cut a fairly small sample of epidermal tissue, this can be problematic if you are working with living collections or endangered species. Not only is it much easier to clip a spine, it is also more aesthetic and less harmful," comments Fehlberg.

As the cost of DNA sequencing has dramatically decreased, its use has grown exponentially. Because it allows the comparison of individuals within and between populations, DNA sequencing has played an important role in understanding genetic diversity. "For example, in the plant species I'm studying, the species boundaries are not clear," says Fehlberg. "Genetics is important for determining what can be considered a cohesive group. "

Knowledge of genetic variation among populations will provide insight to the persistence of a species and inform conservation efforts. Fehlberg notes, "Genetics is helpful in determining how similar populations are to one another and how connected they are. We're able to use both genetics and biological information to determine which populations are most unique and which are most threatened."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Journal of Botany. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Shannon D. Fehlberg , Jessica M. Allen , and Kathleen Church. A Novel Method of Genomic DNA Extraction for Cactaceae. Applications in Plant Sciences, 2013 DOI: 10.3732/apps.1200013

Cite This Page:

American Journal of Botany. "Spinal tap -- using cactus spines to isolate DNA." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130305174653.htm>.
American Journal of Botany. (2013, March 5). Spinal tap -- using cactus spines to isolate DNA. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130305174653.htm
American Journal of Botany. "Spinal tap -- using cactus spines to isolate DNA." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130305174653.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Praying Mantis Looks Long Before It Leaps

Praying Mantis Looks Long Before It Leaps

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) Slowed-down footage of the leaps of praying mantises show the insect&apos;s extraordinary precision, say researchers. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Octopus Grabs Camera and Turns It Around On Photographer

Octopus Grabs Camera and Turns It Around On Photographer

Buzz60 (Mar. 5, 2015) A photographer got the shot of a lifetime, or rather an octopus did, when it grabbed the camera and turned it around to take an amazing picture of the photographer. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

AP (Mar. 5, 2015) The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is ending its iconic elephant acts. The circus&apos; parent company, Feld Entertainment, told the AP exclusively that the acts will be phased out by 2018 over growing public concern about the animals. (March 5) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) Once nearly extinct, grey whales now migrate in their thousands to Mexico&apos;s Vizcaino reserve in Baja California, in search of warmer waters to mate and give birth. Tourists flock to the reserve to see the whales, measuring up to 49 feet long. (March 4) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins