Using restriction mapping to teach basic skills in the molecular biology lab



Digestion of DNA with restriction enzymes, calculation of volumes and concentrations of reagents for reactions, and the separation of DNA fragments by agarose gel electrophoresis are common molecular biology techniques that are best taught through repetition. The following open-ended, investigative laboratory exercise in plasmid restriction mapping allows students to gain technical expertise while simultaneously exploring the utility of gel electrophoresis and restriction mapping. Because of its interpretive nature, this project also provides data suitable for a written report, and can thus be used to reinforce lessons on figure presentation and science writing skills.