Home Biology Plasmid vs. Genomic DNA Extraction: Crucial Variations

Plasmid vs. Genomic DNA Extraction: Crucial Variations

Plasmid vs. Genomic DNA Extraction: Crucial Variations


Plasmid vs. genomic DNA extraction for the super-busy. Plasmid DNA extraction requires separating the plasmid from genomic DNA to keep away from contamination. Use alkaline lysis to denature and renature plasmids and mechanical disruption to lyse cells for genomic DNA extraction. Plasmid extraction makes use of size-based separation, whereas genomic DNA extraction entails lysis and purification through ethanol precipitation.

Most experiments begin with a bit of DNA—both plasmid DNA or genomic DNA.

To isolate plasmid DNA, you lyse your cells and carry out a miniprep, making an attempt arduous to keep away from contaminating genomic DNA. For genomic DNA, you crack your cells open in another way to attempt to isolate as a lot of their contents as attainable.

So what’s the distinction within the protocols?

This text examines the primary variations between plasmid vs. genomic DNA extraction and the widespread procedures used for each.

Genomic DNA Extraction


Genomic DNA (gDNA) extraction is extra easy as a result of sturdy lysis is the one step essential to launch gDNA into resolution. For yeast, crops, and micro organism, lysis entails enzymatically breaking the sturdy, inflexible cell wall earlier than mechanically disrupting the plasma membrane.

Cell partitions are normally digestible with lysozyme, which hydrolyzes cell wall peptidoglycans, and the serine protease, proteinase Okay. For sure Gram-positive species, lysostaphin will additional assist enzymatic digestion. You could want to make use of completely different enzymes for extra unique species with completely different cell wall compositions.

Mechanical cell wall disruption represents a extra common lysis methodology for gDNA extraction. Bead beating is common, and you’ll simply do that on a vortex utilizing 0.1-mm glass beads or 0.15-mm effective garnet beads. Particular vortex adapters assist with performing a number of extractions on the similar time with equal effectivity. Bead beating is quicker than enzymatic lysis and usually extra thorough.

For powerful filamentous fungi (e.g., Aspergillus and Fusarium spp.), mobile materials is usually snap-frozen in liquid nitrogen and milled in a pestle and mortar, adopted by speedy vortexing in resolution with an acceptable lysis buffer.

For extra data on cell lysis, try our articles that specify widespread lysis strategies and the concerns you have to make when selecting a cell lysis protocol.


Following cell lysis (which brings the gDNA into resolution), the one factor left is to purify the pattern. You need to use phenol–chloroform extraction or spin filter membrane expertise with added guanidine salts that promote binding to silica.

A Few Phrases of Recommendation

Chromosomes will break throughout purification as a result of they’re too massive to remain intact. This isn’t a problem for many purposes. Certainly, the breakage could also be advantageous for PCR and qPCR as a result of it aids DNA melting, leading to extra environment friendly amplification reactions.

Nonetheless, this can be a critical challenge for purposes utilizing massive DNA fragments (e.g., long-read sequencing and long-range sequencing). If you must isolate ultra-long DNA fragments for these purposes, contemplate one other setup.

The E. coli chromosome is simply over 4.5 Mb in measurement, amounting to roughly 0.005 picograms per cell. A typical in a single day tradition from a single beginning colony will comprise roughly 1–2×109 cells/mL. Theoretically, that signifies that 1 mL of tradition ought to yield about 5 µg of gDNA (assuming there are ~109 bacterial cells). Think about this when calculating how a lot DNA you want on your chosen software.

Plasmid DNA Extraction

Plasmid DNA extraction is a bit trickier as a result of the plasmid DNA have to be stored separate from gDNA to keep away from cross-contamination. This separation relies on measurement, and good separation depends on utilizing the fitting lysis methodology.


For plasmid DNA extraction, the lysis have to be way more refined than merely chewing up the cell wall with enzymes or bashing it with glass beads. Birnboim and Doly invented the (just about) common methodology for plasmid DNA extraction through alkaline lysis in 1979.

The lysis buffer accommodates sodium hydroxide and SDS, which fully denature plasmid and gDNA (i.e., separate the DNA into single strands). It’s vital that this step is carried out shortly as a result of extreme denaturing might lead to an irreversibly denatured plasmid.

Subsequent, the pattern is neutralized in a potassium acetate resolution to renature the plasmid. That is key to the separation of plasmid and gDNA. As a result of plasmids are small, they’ll simply reanneal, forming double-stranded DNA. Genomic DNA, nevertheless, is just too lengthy to reanneal totally, and as a substitute, it tends to tangle in order that complimentary strands stay separated.

Throughout centrifugation, gDNA (certain to protein) types a pellet whereas plasmid DNA stays soluble. It’s key at this step to not vortex or combine the pattern vigorously as a result of gDNA breaks simply, and damaged gDNA could also be sufficiently small to reanneal and go into resolution with the plasmid.


Plasmid DNA within the supernatant can then be precipitated with ethanol or cleaned up utilizing phenol–chloroform or a spin filter. When you use spin filter expertise, the neutralization buffer will comprise guanidine salts so the lysate can bind the silica immediately for additional washing and elution. The ensuing DNA is pure sufficient for many downstream molecular biology purposes. Take a look at our article explaining how DNA extraction kits work for extra data.

When you want the plasmid for transfection, anion-exchange purification is a more sensible choice to take away contaminating endotoxin. Endotoxin removing can be attainable utilizing quicker silica-based purification setups.

This methodology is appropriate with mammalian and different eukaryotic plasmids and different small extra-chromosomal DNA species. Nonetheless, do not forget that plasmid copy quantity is usually a lot decrease in mammalian cells and plant extranuclear organelles.

A Few Phrases of Recommendation

Plasmid DNA is usually 3–5 kb, relying on the insert measurement. The particular origin of replication current will affect the plasmid copy quantity per cell. A typical high-copy plasmid akin to pUC or pBluescript ought to yield 4–5 µg of DNA per mL of tradition.

To isolate excessive yields of plasmid DNA, use cultures within the late log part or early stationary part. Put together cultures utilizing recent single colonies and recent choice antibiotics on the proper focus for plasmid upkeep. It will be important to not overgrow bacterial cultures as this will likely lead to gDNA contamination within the plasmid extract.

Plasmid vs. Genomic DNA Extraction Summarized

Hopefully, that’s cleared up the primary variations between plasmid vs. genomic DNA extraction. These days, there are kits for the whole lot. And whereas they make life simpler, it’s vital to grasp the essential chemistry behind their directions.

When you loved this text that (hopefully) demystifies some fundamental biology strategies, perhaps you’ll get pleasure from our podcast, Mentors At Your Benchside. Every episode breaks down a standard idea or method in biology analysis, so you’ll be able to develop into an knowledgeable on the fundamentals, broaden your sensible vocabulary, and study new gentle abilities. Be sure you test it out.

Initially printed in 2014, republished in 2019. Revised and up to date June 2023.

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