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PCR News | 2012 Year in Review

Andrew S. Wiecek

Introduced almost 30 years ago, PCR is considered a pretty mature technique. But if 2012 is any indication, this old dog can still learn some new tricks.

PCR News | 2012 Year in Review

Introduced almost 30 years ago, PCR is considered a pretty mature technique. But if 2012 is any indication, this old dog can still learn some new tricks.

Storified by BioTechniques · Tue, Dec 11 2012 12:15:59

Next year, we’ll celebrate the 30th anniversary of PCR’s introduction by the legendary Kary Mullis. But, as with any technology that’s been around for decades, things always change. And for PCR, 2012 has certainly presented some challenges to the tried and true method, specifically when it comes to exploring new areas of biological research such as metagenomics or glycobiology. So, here’s a list of some of our best news stories that focused on the development of new PCR methods in 2012, as described by some of our Twitter followers.
BioTechniques - DNA Extraction: Overcoming Obstacles in Microbial Studies Eisen
Before you can amplify and sequence DNA, you first need to extract it from your sample. While DNA extraction has been standard in most fields, one area that is currently struggling with this technique is metagenomics where researchers are studying large populations of microbiomes. So, the question becomes, are our standard DNA extraction protocols taking a representative sample? In some cases, the answer is “not really.” In October, BioTechniques contributor Janelle Weaver took a look at new developments in DNA extraction techniques for microbial studies. Read more...
How Reliable is Real-Time PCR? Montenegro
Another area that has been a hot topic among researchers over the past year has been the reliability of reverse-transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR). When it comes down to it, two researchers can perform the same RT-qPCR experiments and come away with different answers. The problem is that there are many variables in RT-qPCR. So, in 2009, a group of researchers published guidelines to help alleviate these reproducibility problems called the Minimum Information for Publication of Quantitative Real-Time PCR Experiments, or MIQE for short. While guidelines are wonderful, it requires everyone to sign on. In May 2012, reporter Sarah C.P. Williams reported on the challenges of RT-qPCR reproducibility. Read more...
Deteccion cuantitativa de azucares en superficie celular: Glyco-qPCR #cienciaDanny Galleguillos
We’re always grateful when our Twitter followers can help translate our news stories into other languages, as @DGalleguillos did here for our December 2012 story on how a new PCR method helps to study glycans molecules in cells.

While the idea of using DNA tags to study biological molecules isn’t particularly new, it’s certainly opening new possibilities in the up-and-coming field of glycobiology, as writer Janelle Weaver reports. The method, which is called glyco-quantitative PCR (Glyco-qPCR), promises to become one of the first ultrasensitive detection and quantification methods for glycans. Does it have its limitations? Yes, and some are skeptical that it will really make a significant impact in glycomics, so we’ll keep an eye on its adoption in the future. Read more...
BioTechniques - Microdroplet PCR Takes on Population Genomics: D.
Microdroplet PCR has been another hot topic for discussion, especially for researchers in metagenomics and cancer research. Thanks to recent advances in microfluidics, microdroplet PCR promises high-throughput for single-cell analysis. What we’re talking about is analyzing billions of cells in hours, all on a chip. One droplet captures a cell, another droplet contains PCR primers, and then they are combined to form a micro-PCR reaction. In August 2012, Ashley Yeager examined recent developments in this area. Read more...   
Tracking a bat killer: #bats #whitenosesyndrome #science @USGS @forestservice @uwmadisonWhite Nose Bats
And finally, one of our favorite PCR stories this year was looking at how RT-PCR was helping researchers studying white-nose syndrome. Since 2006, the infectious disease has been decimating bat populations in the Northeast. Last year, researchers identified the fungus behind the disease. But now, as science writer Sarah Williams explains in her October 2012 article, it’s a case of tracking that fungus and understanding how it’s spreading among these bat populations. And for that, researchers are relying on RT-PCR. Read more...       

And that’s our roundup of the top news stories on PCR development trends this year, as tweeted by our followers. Next year, we look forward to celebrating 30 years of PCR with you and seeing what else this technique can pull out of its bag of tricks.    

Keywords:  pcr