Tuesday, March 25, 2014

MartiDNAs - the Recombinant Cocktail

Name's going to need some work...  but lets see what it tastes like first.

In my bioinformatics lecture today we discussed extracting DNA, and the fact that you can do it in your kitchen.  Sounds like fun!  It includes a source of DNA - strawberries, particularly, are mentioned - a splash of salt, a blender, an enzyme to break down the proteins - meat tenderiser is suggested, but pineapple juice is listed as a possible backup - and some alcohol.

Tell me I'm not the only one who's thinking that sounds like a pretty reasonable cocktail.

Two potential problems.  The alcohol they suggest using is 70-95% isopropyl or ethyl.  They don't give me any reason to believe that the type is important, but its possible that vodka will be too dilute.  I'll have to try it and see.

Harder: there's a stage I skipped, in making this sound like a cocktail recipe; mixing in detergent to break down the cell walls.  Not too keen on detergent in my martidna.  That page suggests that grease might work as well, but Dr Caporaso wasn't sure (and I'm not really sure I want bacon grease floating around in my martini-glass either...)

To the Experimentiser!

Cocktails... For Science!

Armed and dangerous; no strawberries to be had, so we're going with blackberries.

1 cup blackberries
1/4 tsp. salt.

Blended, strained, and split in half.
Half gets 1 tbsp dish detergent.  Half gets 2 tbsp bacon grease.  Bacon grease on the left, control with detergent on the right.
Two test tubes filled 1/3 with each mixture, for 4 in total. White Labs yeast containers make the best test tube shot glasses ever!  Small amount (~1/2 tsp?) of fresh-blended pineapple added to each.  (It didn't say how much to use, but it's as an enzyme, so I guessed I didn't need much.)  Stirred gently.  One tube of each type floated in 70% isopropyl, the other in vodka.  DNA gently drawn up with a stirrer.
 Control #1: 70% isopropyl, and detergent; do not drink!  DNA is subdued but clearly visible white cloud.
 Control #2: Vodka and detergent; won't kill you, but _I'm_ not tasting it.  DNA is, if anything, far clearer, though I may have just stirred it better.
 Control #3: 70% isopropyl and bacon grease; do not drink!  Additional visiblity almost certainly due to better light for the photo.
 Vodka and bacon grease: safe to drink and DNA still clearly visible.  Success!
 Verdict: drunk layered - the only way you can see the DNA - it tastes like straight vodka.  Add an olive and wave some vermouth in the general direction of its shadow.
 Drunk blended - because why waste all that fruit - it tastes... a bit much like bacon, to be honest.  Next time I'll use less fruit, in a proper martini glass, and leave it layered.

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