Costs of making it from Scratch?

Hiranya Roychowdhury hroychow at NMSU.EDU
Mon Apr 20 11:54:37 EST 1998

At 11:16 PM 4/18/98 -0400, The Alexanders wrote:
>Well I just moved into a new lab and found almost everything being made
>from scratch.  I am about to do some PCR reactions for plasmid constructs
>but I need to make almost everything.  The primers were made elsewhere (I
>used to make them myself) but now I have a bunch of solutions to make up. 
>I did bring a lot of solutions with me from my last lab but not TAE or
>TBE.  I may have been spoiled but I have not made these solutions in 10

I'm at a loss! This is what the taxpayers are paying for? Now the scientists
have to make their OWN SOLUTIONS? It is outrages me to even contemplate that
I'd have to weigh out Tris, EDTA and mesure Acetic acid in the lab to make
up TAE. What if I measure wrong? What happens then? Why, pretty soon I'll be
asked clean up my bench after I've finished doing my BREAKTHROUGH experiments!!

>I also have used FMC pre-poured agarose gels for the last 3
>years.  I know how much time this saves me but would it save my lab
>money?  Has anyone done a cost/benefit analysis on this problem?  These
>gels are always ready to go and are consistent.  

I truly sympathize. What with the time it takes to weigh out the fine
agarose powder that also fly when you are in a hurry... Why, I could be
spending as much as 10 min in preparing a gel...!

>Any tips on making up batches of agarose gels and storing them for later
>use?  I used to make 5 at a time and store in buffer at room temp. but I'd
>like to make larger batches and store them in a refrigerator.  
>I have also been using an ependorf repeat pipetor for 10 years and the lab
>does not own any of these.  These cost about $400 US Dollars but you use
>less tips and save the time and boredom of repeating everything
>I would also like to set up a seperate area for PCR with a complete set of
>pipetmen dedicated to PCR.  I'm not sure they will go for it.  They don't
>even have a single P2 pipetor (I guess a P10 is good enough?).  They dont
>use strip tubes (yet) and they don't use hot start.  What is the estimated
>cost of each contaminated experiment of 6 to 8 tubes using pfu polymerase
>including wasted time, reagents, and a mini-gel?
>I also need to make media, plates, antibiotics (easy), and top agar.  We
>do buy competent cells so that helps.

More I learn, more disgusted I get. Whoever heard of "preparing one's own
media plates"?

>I also had my own computer for the last 7 years and am now sharing.  My
>notebook has also been on computer for the last 3 years and this saves a
>lot of time.  Now I somtimes have to wait for computer time.
>Any refs. on saving money vs time?  I need real facts.

Here are some:

Cost of buying prepared agarose gels is ~5x more.

Cost of buying TAE/TBE premade is about ~10x more.

Even P20 seems to work fine in PCR. We use barrier tips. We do not have a
PCR Station but we make sure we clean up after ourselves. Seldom do we
experience contamination. Whether anybody wants to use hot-start is up to
the worker... nobody gets in anybody's way when it comes to PCR protocols.
Strip tubes are not necessary. Our lab carries out immense number of PCR
reactions, and even UG's are trained to handle it with significant ease...
the indispensibility of strip tubes have never been felt. However, we do use
them for our automated sequencer.

Multipipettors are excellent, but I fail to see the "conservation of tips"
argument... especially from someone who would rather BUY premade TAE/TBE.

And I'd rather not comment on the preparation of media plates, lest I should
lose my civility.

>Bill Alexander
>bear at
>Please also email any responses to me if you post to the list. TIA

Dr. Hiranya Sankar Roychowdhury
Plant Genetic Engineering Lab.
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, NM 88003
Ph. (505) 646-5785
hroychow at

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