A PCR is like an apple pie

In our lab we always say: If you can bake a cake, you can do PCR😊. Just follow the instructions for the desired chemical reaction. Mix all the ingredients and put it into the oven/PCR machine. But don´t forget to add Taq polymerase/baking powder.

Karin’s latest PCR gel

Back in the late eighties, or maybe in the beginning of the nineties, when I was working with clinical microbiology diagnostics, my boss told me that there was something called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). I had never heard of it, but after reading a little, I thought it was interesting and gave it a try. At the institution we had probably one of the first versions of the PCR machine. It didn´t even have a lid. We used mineral oil to prevent evaporation. The reaction did work, and I could detect the bacteria of interest. It was probably then that I got interested in molecular biology, took some courses and moved my career onto the current path.

A few years later, working with genetic diseases I got to run PCR again, this time on more modern machines with a lid. But we were still using mineral oil until the heated lid machines came along. Back then, we took pictures with a Polaroid camera, not the digitalized equipment we have today.

I have also used one of the early versions of Real-time PCR machines, with very small, fragile capillary tubes. You could only run 32 samples, including standard curve and controls. Considering that you also had to run duplicates, it wasn´t many samples per run. Luckily the methods and equipment have developed during the time I have been working in the lab. Either the development has gone fast, or I am very old, or do you say experienced?

Nowadays you can even buy ready-made mix, just add primers and DNA/apples.