How do I create a workspace that is free of DNA contamination, prior to carrying out a qPCR experiment?
FAQ ID -2654

Any DNA contamination will artificially inflate the SYBR Green signal, yielding skewed gene expression profiles and false-positive signals. The most common source of DNA contamination is from PCR products generated during previous experiments. Such contamination is most often due to the improper disposal of tubes, tips, and gels that previously came into contact with PCR products. Additionally, PCR products may also contaminate pipettors, racks, work pads, and commonly used reagents such as water and buffers. To minimize the risk of contaminating your experiment with extraneous DNA, the following steps should be taken:


  • Remove a single aliquot of water from your PCR-grade stock, sufficient to complete the experiment. This minimizes the number of times that the stock container is opened, thereby minimizing contamination risks.
  • Use only fresh PCR-grade reagents and disposable labware.
  • Treat any labware (tubes, tips, and tip boxes) used in PCR with 10% bleach, before discarding.
  • Maintain a dedicated workspace for PCR setup (perhaps a PCR-only hood), away from areas of the lab where post-PCR work is done, such as running gels, enzyme digestions, and cloning.
  • Change the lab bench pads/papers often and decontaminate lab benches and labware (racks, pipettors, etc.) before each use by washing with 10% bleach, and/or exposing to UV light for at least 10 minutes. This serves to degrade and/or inactivate contaminating DNA.
  • Before, during, and after the experiment, minimize the opening and closing of any tubes or plates used during the experiment.