The PCR and plant evolution

In 1998, an international group of nearly a hundred plant scientists published a revolutionary proposal. After more than two centuries of classifying plants on the basis of their appearance, botanists began grouping flowering plants according to similarities in their genetic material, DNA.

This module allows students to amplify chloroplast DNA using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The length of the fragments produced can be used to infer evolutionary relationships.


The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is one of the most important and powerful methods in molecular biology. It enables millions of copies of specific DNA sequences to be made easily and quickly. The technique and variations of it are used extensively in medicine, in molecular genetics and in pure research. This practical kit provides materials for the simple extraction of chloroplast DNA from plant tissue, its amplification by the PCR, and gel electrophoresis of the PCR product. Students can use plants of their choice and identify possible evolutionary relationships between different species. This mirrors the molecular methods used in modern plant taxonomy. This activity presents an ideal opportunity for open-ended investigations by individual students or groups. This protocol was developed in association with Science and Plants for Schools.


The module contains the consumable materials for the extraction, amplification, and gel electrophoresis of 16 chloroplast DNA samples plus one negative control. The kit includes:

  • 4 plant DNA extraction (FTA) cards
  • 4 punches and cutting boards
  • Reagents needed for extracting plant DNA
  • Disposable microcentrifuge tubes
  • 2 floating tube holders
  • Primers for the PCR
  • 17 ‘Ready-to-Go’ PCR reaction beads
  • 1 fixed-volume 20 µL Minipipet
  • 1 mL syringes and graduated tips
  • 8 sheets of carbon fibre electrode material, 10 cm x 10 cm
  • 2 g DNA electrophoresis-grade agarose
  • 50 mL TBE buffer (10x concentrate)
  • 8 x 1.5 mL bromophenol blue loading dye
  • 25 µg 1 kb DNA ‘ruler’
  • 50 mL stain for DNA (2x concentrate)
  • 8 copies of the Student’s guide (full colour)
  • Teacher’s guide
  • Safety data sheets



For a full list of replacement items, including Students’ booklets, please refer to the Replacement parts web page. Please note that once you have a Base Unit, the most cost-effective option is probably to buy the PCR and plant evolution module rather than individual replacement items.


The PCR and plant evolution module …..£208.00 (GBP)


All of the prices on this page are in GBP and do not include Value Added Tax (VAT). This tax applies within the European Union only. Postage and handling must also be paid on orders from outside the United Kingdom. Details of how to order are given on the price list and on the Ordering web page.