What do you know about DNA? Find out how to use common household items to extract DNA from your next fruit salad.

I recently went out with Australian Museum geneticist Dr Rebecca Johnson to a school to help with a DNA extraction workshop.

During this workshop student squished a strawberry in a plastic bag, swished it around with some warm salt water, added some detergent and swished some more. The slush was then filtered and the remaining liquid was transferred into small test tubes. Methylated spirits was added, separating the strawberry DNA out. Students were able to clearly see the DNA in the test tube.

DNA of stawberries
DNA of stawberries by Dr Rebecca Johnstone and Geoff Gardener Image: Unknown
© Australian Museum

All the students were focused throughout the entire workshop and were very excited when they saw the strawberry DNA in the test tube.

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a molecule that encodes the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all living organisms.

The workshop also covered the important work of the Wildlife Genetics and Microscopy Unit in the Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics.

The Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics is one of the few museum genetics facilities in Australia. For the Australian Museum's researchers and external clients we answer questions regarding identification of species. Through DNA analysis we get a clue which species it is, or where it belongs to. And sometimes we even discover new species.

Australian Museum's Genetic Unit also curates the Frozen Tissue Collection - approx. 70,000 samples comprising a large variety of both exotic and native Australian animals.