Maintenance Tip: Electrophoresis Systems
When your tank does not match your gel running throughput and reduces your laboratory’s efficiency, it’s probably time to do maintenance on your electrophoresis system. Inconsistent results between runs or buffer leaks in the inner buffer chamber during runs also signal that it’s time to get your system serviced.
How will my resolution requirements affect the type of tank I should purchase?
Different sizes of nucleic acids and proteins will directly affect the type of gel and, as a result, the tank that is ideal for the process. For laboratories looking at large nucleic acid sequences, typically 50bp to 20,000bp, agarose gel should be used. Alternatively, for laboratories looking at proteins or smaller nucleic acid sequences, typically 5bp to 500bp, a PAGE gel should be utilized. An agarose gel is run in a tank with a horizontal orientation whereas a PAGE gel is run in a tank with a vertical orientation.
How will using precast or hand cast gels affect the electrophoresis process?
Hand casting a gel can have benefits such as being able to adjust the concentrations of agarose and acrylamide and bis-acrylamide for PAGE gels. The price difference between hand cast and pre cast gels also plays a role when deciding which to purchase. The process of hand casting gels can be an area of frustration many researchers know all too well. On top of this, the time used to cast the gel can eliminate any potential cost savings when adding in technician time. Many vendors offer pre cast gels in a variety of concentrations, and they can come with ladders already built in. This can greatly streamline the process of running gels, freeing up researchers to work on other tasks.
Why is it important to know what sample throughput requirements are needed?
The sample throughput requirements of the laboratory can have an impact on the type of tank required. For laboratories that are running few samples, there are a variety of single or dual tanks designed for mini gels, ensuring that the reagent costs and running time are kept to a minimum. For laboratories running a larger amount of samples, there are many options for increased tank size, some offering the ability to run up to 12 full sized gels simultaneously.
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