Determination of DNA Bases Using Electrochemistry: A Discovery-Based Experiment


A discovery-based experiment is presented for use in undergraduate analytical and biochemistry courses. The experiment uses electrochemical techniques (e.g., cyclic, linear-sweep, and/or square-wave voltammetry) to detect the presence of DNA bases in solution. Working individually or in teams, students must develop a method for the detection of adenine(A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) and thymine (T) in aqueous samples. They are given only topical information about their project and must research and plan the analyses, learn the instrumental methods to be used, and prepare an experimental protocol that will be “validated” by another individual/team during a subsequent laboratory. Goals of this approach include introducing students to various electrochemical techniques and having them research how these techniques are being used to determine and study biologically relevant analytes. Another goal is to place students in the position of being scientists and having to make decisions and recommendations. Each step of the analytical process must be carefully considered and its significance assessed because there are no “recipes” to follow as they develop their methods and make comparisons between different electrochemical techniques for the determination of analytes.


Chemistry and Biochemistry

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adenine, xxperimental protocol, analytical process, thymine, aqueous sample

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Journal Title

The Chemical Educator