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Molecular Biology - Basic Texts

Jon Nakamoto jnakamot at ucla.edu
Sat Dec 9 06:16:35 EST 1995

In article <30c8a065.0 at minerva.rz.uni-konstanz.de>,
martin.sprick at uni-konstanz.de wrote:

> Carson at vision.net.au (Carson) wrote:
> >Greetings
> >Can any one recommend an introductory text to the practicalities of
> >molecular biology, particularly reagent formulations, determining the
> >concentration of DNA by absorbance at 260, standard data eg extinction
> >co-efficients of dNTPs. Although I've gleaned much of the information
> >I need at present, I've found it scattered in various places or
> >acquired it from patient colleagues.  An introductory text would be
> >useful for acquiring first principles.
> >I'd be interested in hearing about favourite texts in this area.
> >Jeremy Carson
> The text I´ve found quite useful is ´Current Protocols in Molecular
> Biology´whic comes in three parts and is updated reglulalry by
> supplements. It covers all the topics you mentioned and more. At the
> moment i am unable to name the author or publisher, but if you are
> interested, send me a mail.
> Martin Sprick

I, too, love the Red Book (Current Protocols in Mol. Bio, published by
Wiley, New York), but it is outrageously expensive unless you're a student
(and even then it's expensive). What makes it so useful is the combination
of detail (less "reading between the lines" than in some books), the
italicized comments which follow almost every step, and the textual
commentaries which follow at the end of the protocol. Nevertheless, I
think that the price makes it less likely to be the ideal _introductory_
text. (By the way, you can get the much cheaper Short Protocols version,
but this leaves out those italicized comments I find so useful). 
   When I was starting out, I thought that the Davis & Battey (something
like "Basic methods in Molecular Biology" or the like) book was pretty
nice for someone just coming into the lab. Short, clear, and basic (and I
really appreciated the "estimated time to complete" comments, which gave
me perspective about the difficulty and time commitment required for a
given procedure). 
   Sambrook (or the earlier "Maniatis" edition I cut my teeth on) has some
strengths, too (the Appendix has a lot of truly useful points about basic
things such as ethanol precipitation, solutions, etc.). If you can't
afford the Red Book, this is pretty good (our lab actually has both, and I
always compare protocols between the two to see what things are truly
invariable and which things are personal style). If they further expand
the Appendix, it could be a pretty good introduction to a lot of the more
basic techniques one needs to know. 
   Nevertheless, I think there's room for a good standalone, affordable
text on the "real basics" of molecular biology. Something I can give to
undergrads who come to our lab and save myself the hours of repeating the
same things over and over again (basic mol bio lab safety, gel basics, how
to pipette, how to adjust pH of an acetate solution ["no, no, not the
HCl!"]). Somebody please write one so I can buy it. 


Jon Nakamoto
jnakamot at ucla.edu

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