RNA isolation is a crucial step in the journey to discovery. For over two decades, our scientists have developed innovative and robust RNA extraction technologies to make those steps faster and more reliable.

DNA Learning Center

What is the purpose of RNA extraction?

The purpose of RNA extraction is to obtain high quality purified RNA from biological samples for applications such as sequencing, transcriptome analysis, and infectious pathogen testing.

Obtaining high quality RNA is the first, and often the most critical, step in performing many RNA-based molecular techniques, such as RT- and qRT-PCR, dPCR, RNA sequencing, array analysis, northern analysis, and cDNA library construction.

There are several common methods for RNA extraction available as kits. The choice of RNA extraction kit or RNA isolation kit depends on your sample type, throughput required, or what equipment is available in the lab.

RNA extraction and isolation methods comparison chart

  Organic extraction Crude lysate Silica spin column Magnetic beads
DescriptionMonophasic solution of phenol and guanidine isothiocyanate Lysis buffer containing enzymes and detergent Spin column and reagents for RNA isolation via selective silica binding Magnetic beads and reagents for RNA isolation via selective bead binding
Sample type(s)Bacteria, blood, cells, plant samples, tissue, viral samples, yeast Cells in culture Bacteria, blood, cells, plant and animal tissue, serum, yeast Flexible for many sample types
ProcedureRNA isolation achieved through organic extraction and RNA precipitation Incubation in lysis buffer followed by addition of stop solution; no isolation is performed Homogenized samples loaded onto column; RNA is washed and eluted off column using benchtop centrifuge or vacuum manifold Homogenized samples mixed with magnetic beads; beads are washed with wash buffers, and RNA is then eluted off the beads
PurityMedium Not applicable High Highest
ThroughputLow Medium to high Medium to high Medium to high
  • Efficient lysis and isolation
  • Scalable format
  • Great for high-fat and cartilaginous samples
  • Very fast process
  • Addition-only workflow
  • Process 10–100,000 cells with single protocol
  • Highest reproducibility and sensitivity
  • Compatible with reverse transcriptase and qPCR master mix reactions
  • Easy to use
  • Processing of many sample types and volumes
  • Specialized equipment not required
  • High yield and purity
  • Isolates true total RNA, including miRNA
  • Higher efficiency washes from bead movement
  • No column means no risk of clogging
  • Fully scalable to process low and high sample inputs
  • High yield and efficiency
  • Easily automated for high throughput

To learn more about these methods, see Nucleic Acid Extraction


Find the right RNA extraction kit or reagent to support your research

Whatever your sample type, RNA type or downstream application, you can be confident that our portfolio of products can accelerate your research.

Need bulk reagents or a custom configuration for your workflow? Just ask our RNA Custom Services team!

For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.