In gel electrophoresis, fluorescent nucleic acid gel stains are dyes used for DNA detection. When bound to DNA molecules and illuminated with UV or blue light, these dye molecules fluoresce brightly. Once the gel is stained, transilluminators are used to excite the dye molecules, which allow DNA to be visualized, sized, and quantified. The SYBR family of dyes is a safer and more sensitive alternative to ethidium bromide (EtBr).
DNA stains selection guide
|Best for||Detection of nucleic acids in agarose gels and CsCl gradients||Safer, smarter alternative to EtBr||Ultimate sensitivity for capillary electrophoresis and real-time PCR||Ultimate sensitivity for DNA detection|
|UltraPure Ethidium Bromide||SYBR Safe DNA Gel Stain||SYBR Green I Nucleic Acid Gel Stain||SYBR Gold Nucleic Acid Gel Stain|
|Sensitivity with dsDNA||Sensitive|
|Available as ready-to-use|
|Recommended for gel electrophoresis||✓||✓||✓|
|Recommended for ssDNA||✓|
|Improved cloning efficiency; avoid UV-induced nicked DNA||✓||✓||✓|
|Detection method||UV||UV or blue light||Fluorescence (blue light excitation)||UV, blue light, or laser scanners|
SYBR Gold nucleic acid gel stain
SYBR Gold stain is a versatile and universal nucleic acid gel stain that provides excellent sensitivity for dsDNA, ssDNA, and RNA detection. SYBR Gold stain can be used with many gel types and does not require a wash step.
SYBR Gold stain is an excellent choice for use in molecular biology applications such as northern blotting, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, and single-strand conformation polymorphism, as well as routine gel analysis.
SYBR Gold stain offers multiple benefits when compared to other post-electrophoresis stains, including:
- Detection of as low as 25 pg of DNA, which renders maximum sensitivity
- Faster penetration of agarose gels and staining of thicker, high percentage gels
- Low background fluorescence, owing to the low intrinsic fluorescence of the unbound dye
- No interference of unbound dye molecules with restriction endonuclease or ligase activity nor with subsequent PCR reactions
SYBR Green I Nucleic Acid Gel Stain
SYBR Green I Nucleic Acid Gel Stain is an extremely sensitive fluorescent stain for detecting nucleic acids in both agarose and polyacrylamide gels, detecting as little as 60 pg of DNA. SYBR Green stains and SYBR Gold stains share many similarities, but SYBR Green stains are slightly less sensitive than SYBR Gold stain.
SYBR Green I stain has some important qualities, making it the preferred reagent for certain applications.
- Exhibits greater fluorescence enhancement when bound to dsDNA and oligonucleotides than when bound to RNA; this makes SYBR Green I the ideal candidate for staining DNA in applications where RNA may be present and obscure the results
- Has a very low background fluorescence, making it the preferred dye for some laser scanning instruments where background fluorescence can produce unacceptable noise levels
SYBR Safe DNA gel stain is the safest reagent for staining DNA. SYBR Safe stain has sensitivity comparable to that of EtBr, yet tests negative in three mammalian cell-based assays for genotoxicity. It is less mutagenic than ethidium bromide in standard Ames tests and is not classified as hazardous waste under U.S. federal regulations.
Additional resources for DNA stains
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For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.