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PCR & Amplification

The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a relatively simple technique that amplifies a DNA template to produce specific DNA fragments in vitro. Traditional methods of cloning a DNA sequence into a vector and replicating it in a living cell often require days or weeks of work, but amplification of DNA sequences by PCR requires only hours. While most biochemical analyses, including nucleic acid detection with radioisotopes, require the input of significant amounts of biological material, the PCR process requires very little. Thus, PCR can achieve more sensitive detection and higher levels of amplification of specific sequences in less time than previously used methods. These features make the technique extremely useful, not only in basic research, but also in commercial uses, including genetic identity testing, forensics, industrial quality control and in vitro diagnostics. Basic PCR is commonplace in many molecular biology labs where it is used to amplify DNA fragments and detect DNA or RNA sequences within a cell or environment. However, PCR has evolved far beyond simple amplification and detection, and many extensions of the original PCR method have been described. This chapter provides an overview of different types of PCR methods, applications and optimization.
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