Chip-ing away at DNA


Staff Report



John Elrod and Cortny Robinson work together to examine corn and soy-based foods for their high school biology class.

John Elrod and Cortny Robinson work together to examine corn and soy-based foods for their high school biology class.


Marta Laskowski, John Elrod, and Jeff Wong grind up food in preparation for DNA extraction.


Genetic modification and DNA extraction are tricky concepts to understand solely through pictures and lectures.

That’s why Oberlin High School biology students have been working hands-on in a college laboratory.

With the help of Oberlin College research students, 11th-graders in Donna Parrish’s science class examined corn and soy-based foods to determine whether they were genetically modified with a CaMV 35S promoter. This particular alteration allows plants to produce a pesticide to fight destructive insects, which means farmers no longer have to spray their crops.

DNA was extracted from unflavored and flavored Doritos, Fritos, edamame, dent corn, and corn starch. After purification, the students set up a polymerase chain reaction, which amplifies the DNA numerous times.

The samples were then placed in an electrophoresis gel and dye that makes them visible under ultraviolet light. An electrical charge moved the negatively-charged DNA toward the positive end of the gel, showing that only Fritos and flavored Doritos had the 35S promoter.

John Elrod and Cortny Robinson work together to examine corn and soy-based foods for their high school biology class.
https://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2018/01/web1_John-Elrod-Cortny-Robinson.jpgJohn Elrod and Cortny Robinson work together to examine corn and soy-based foods for their high school biology class.

Marta Laskowski, John Elrod, and Jeff Wong grind up food in preparation for DNA extraction.
https://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2018/01/web1_Marta-Laskowski-John-Elrod-Jeff-Wong-Maya-Schane.jpgMarta Laskowski, John Elrod, and Jeff Wong grind up food in preparation for DNA extraction.

Staff Report