The concept of amplifying small amounts of DNA using two oligonucleotide primers and a DNA polymerase, known as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), was introduced to the broader scientific community in 1986. The technique was adopted quickly and became routine in just about every molecular biology lab. I remember watching a fellow graduate student set up several water baths in a row, grab three timers, and perform the cycling manually, the equivalent of a poor man’s thermal cycler. While the nature of the technique—DNA amplification—hasn’t changed, it is now an integral part of cutting-edge technologies such as nucleic acid quantification, molecular diagnostics, next-generation sequencing, and synthetic biology.
Just How Versatile Is the Polymerase Chain Reaction?
Art and Science of Laboratory Medicine
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