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Polymerase chain reaction

PCR is a series of temperature-controlled reactions which enable us to amplify a very tiny sample of DNA,  producing enough material for it to be analysed or used in DNA profiling.

Stem cells

Cells which can divide repeatedly without becoming differentiated and have the capacity to develop into a diverse range of specialised cell types.

Genetic engineering

Genetic engineering involves changing the DNA of an organism, usually by deleting, inserting or editing a gene to produce desired characteristics.

Biotechnology

The use of biological organisms or enzymes to create, break down or transform a material.

Polymerase chain reaction

Just imagine...

    DNA

    Deoxyribonucleic acid. This is the molecule which contains the genetic code. It coils up tightly inside chromosomes. DNA is a double helix made from two strands which are joined together by pairs of bases.

  • a technology enabling us to extract a tiny quantity of DNA from a single hair or drop of blood at the scene of a crime and increase the amount of it a million times or more so that it can be analysed
  • a technology allowing us to analyse the DNA from a bacterial or viral infection in order to diagnose an illness
  • a technology that makes it possible to mass-produce DNA from fossil remains, extinct for millions of years

This technology exists - it is the polymerase chain reaction.

Like all brilliant ideas, the polymerase chain reaction is incredibly simple yet extremely clever at the same time. This resource provides details of the reaction and its uses.

Contents

Click here to download the polymerase chain reaction poster shown below.

polymerase chain reaction poster

To order a free set of ABPI schools posters on the following topics: biotechnology, cloning, genetic engineering, unravelling the genome, polymerase chain reaction and stem cells, please fill in our order form.

How to use this site

There are a number of interactive features in this e-source:

    Glossary

    A list of often difficult or specialised words with their definitions.

  • A glossary of terms: any word with a glossary entry is highlighted like this.
  • Quick questions: at the end of most pages or sections there is a question or set of quick questions to test your understanding.
  • Animations: most of the animations can be expanded to full screen size, ideal for showing on an interactive whiteboard. The animations will play all the way through or can be viewed one section at a time.
  • Downloads: Teachers can download individual diagrams, animations and other content from the Download Library area of the website. Terms and Conditions apply.