Dispersion of Agarose

Sun Jan 10 06:08:49 EST 1993

I can't help cursing myself whenever I prepare agarose gels and
the suspension happens to overboil inside the microwave. At
certain equally irksome times (especially with bigger preparations)
the gel remained undispersed while considerable volume has already
been lost during heating. I always cover the boiling flask
with a beaker but this didn't do so much to prevent excessive 
evaporation. I discovered a trick (perhaps I just rediscovered it on
my own) to avoid these pitfalls. I tried presoaking the gel overnight 
at the eve of my gel run. Wholla! The agarose dispersed quicker in the 
buffer. Dispersion took only about half the normal boiling time. By the 
time vigorous boiling commences the agarose particles were substantially
dissolved. Volume loss is therefore minimized. Presoaking allows 
the gel to swell and be hydrated. Alternatively, one can equilibrate
the gel suspension in a 55-650C bath (ca. 30 min) prior to boiling.
The same result is achieved. I think it's not much trouble having to
prepare the suspension well in advance and stand it for a while
especially if the gel consistency can be maintained for different
preparations of equal concentration.

R. P. Scott
Pathology Division
Manila, Philippines
E-Mail: rscott at irri.cgnet.com

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