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Autoclaves destroy DNA???

Mon Aug 5 09:09:10 EST 1996


     I have heard diametrically opposed statements about the effectiveness of
standard steam autoclaves in terms of destroying DNA (on microtubes, forceps,
pestles, etc.) such that PCR will not amplify any DNA that may have been on
the autoclaved items.  One group says that 15-20 min in the autoclave at 121C
will do the job; the other says that DNA cannot be adequately disrupted by an
autoclave such that PCR will not amplify it.  (As a side point, I have also
been told that, if one prevents the pressure in the autoclave from reaching all
parts of the item or from reaching liquids being autoclaved, those areas or
liquids will not receive the effects of the autoclave.  For instance, partially
filling 1.7 ml tubes and then snapping them shut before autoclaving them
supposedly leaves the water "non-autoclaved".)

     So far, I only have opinions on this subject.  Has anyone actually done
any experiments to determine the effectiveness of autoclaving at destroying
DNA???  If so, please let me know whether your results support those who say
that autoclaving effectively destroys the DNA or those who say that it only
effectively destroys proteins.

     My e-mail address is "sherke at lsuvm.sncc.lsu.edu".  If others are also
interested in this question, drop me a note and I will send you a copy of any
responses that I receive.


     Scott W. Herke
     Ph.D. graduate student, LSU
     Baton Rouge, LA

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