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A universal RNA extraction protocol for land plants

Posted on December 17, 2013

RNA, a nucleic acid involved in protein synthesis, is widely used in genetic research to study patterns of gene expression in different organisms. The types and quantities of RNA present in an organism indicate which genes are expressed, providing insight on the genes responsible for particular phenotypes.

Many tools, such as next-generation sequencing and quantitative PCR, are available for studying gene expression. However, these tools rely on the extraction of high-quality RNA from the organism of interest, and this can be a challenging task. Compared to genomic DNA, RNA is more delicate and prone to degradation. Additionally, many plant tissues are infused with starch, fibers, or secondary compounds that inhibit the isolation of RNA of sufficient quality and/or quantity.

Although numerous protocols for RNA extraction have been developed, most of these are plant-specific, with many tailored for particular crop plants or model organisms (e.g., Arabidopsis), making their utility for non-model plant species, which constitute the vast bulk of plant diversity, somewhat limited.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a new protocol for RNA extraction that can be used across land plants, which comprise over 300,000 species. The protocol is available for free viewing in the December issue ofApplications in Plant Sciences.

According to Chelsea Specht, associate professor in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology at UC Berkeley and senior author of the study, this protocol will greatly facilitate RNA-based studies of non-model plant species.

Read more at: Phys.org

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