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The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) allows isolation of DNA fragments from genomic DNA by selective amplification of a specific region of DNA. It has been adapted over the years to allow amplification of RNA samples, as well as quantification of the amount of DNA or RNA in a sample. PCR methods typically amplify DNA fragments of between 0.1 and 10 kilobase pairs, although some techniques allow for amplification of fragments up to 40 kilobase pairs in size. The isolation of a thermally stable DNA polymerase (Taq) from an archaebacteria allowed the PCR to be carried out in a single closed tube driven by varying temperatures.
PCR is an extremely useful technique for specific in vitro amplification of nucleic acids because it requires very little starting material. This is often critical for biological experiments, when only a trace amount of DNA can be obtained from a sample. Manipulation of the specificity can be achieved by simply varying length and nucleotide sequence of primers and annealing temperature. Alfa AesarÆs range of DNA, RNA and PCR products includes polymerases, enzymes and nucleotides commonly used for the technique.