Electrophoresis is a common lab procedure for identifying and separating macromolecules. It was first observed in the early 1800s by a university scientist in Moscow. Like many discoveries, it was accidental, but has proven itself useful for many research scenarios. By applying electricity, technicians use the particles’ negative or positive charges to make them migrate through porous matrix, such as an agarose gel. When positively charged molecules are present in a sample, they will creep towards the negative current (cathode), while negatively charged molecules will migrate to the positive current (anode).
The United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) has developed guidelines to classify laboratory applications conducted with potentially hazardous biological microorganisms. These levels range from Biosafety Level 1 (the least hazardous) to Biosafety Level 4 (the most hazardous).
In addition to specifying guidelines for the type of work that is classified under each Biosafety Level (BSL), the CDC also has guidelines for the types of precautions and protections needed to mitigate injury resulting from exposure to pathogens. These Biosafety Level protocols have been used by manufacturing companies as references for engineering controls such as biosafety cabinets and glove box enclosures. Creating a secure working environment is a critical goal of the CDC and individual employers.
Centrifugation is one of the most widely used laboratory techniques for the separation of materials in the fields of biochemistry, molecular biology, medicine, food sciences and industry. It’s all about gravity and mass: particles in a heterogeneous solution will, given enough time, separate based on their size and density. Smaller, less-dense particles may also migrate down, but not always; some particles will never settle, but remain suspended in solution. Centrifuges force this process along much more quickly and efficiently. Its uses have proven to be so powerful and wide-spread across the sciences that centrifuges have been a common piece of laboratory equipment since the late 19th century.
Water’s ability to dissolve compounds, along with its polarity, bonding, melting, boiling and freezing points, heat absorption, and vaporization characteristics arguably make it the most versatile substance we know. It’s also ubiquitous and plentiful: the earth can’t live without it, most plants and animals can’t exist without it, and scientists can’t operate labs without it.
Gel electrophoresis is a laboratory method that allows for the separation of nucleic acids (DNA or RNA) and proteins based on their size. Electrophoresis is used by labs studying vaccines, medications, forensics, DNA profiling or other life science applications. The technique is also used in industry such as mining or food sciences.
Gel electrophoresis utilizes a porous gel matrix through which proteins or nucleic acids migrate. Both nucleic acids and proteins possess a net-negative electrical charge, a property that is leveraged to facilitate the migration of the desired molecule through the medium.
Researchers have been culturing bacterial and eukaryotic cells for decades in an effort to elucidate their biological functions and to develop and evaluate treatments for disease. While culturing cells under atmospheric conditions may yield informative results, often these studies require an environment that more closely mimics the actual physiological climate.
In vivo, animal cells are exposed to oxygen concentrations that range from 1% to 12%. At normal atmospheric conditions, oxygen is present at a concentration of around 21%. Many anaerobic microorganisms cannot carry out proper metabolic processes in the presence of oxygen. In fact, atmospheric concentrations of oxygen are often toxic to these cells.