There are a handful of procedures which almost all life science researchers encounter at a certain point along their work. These common techniques can be difficult to troubleshoot and in many cases lead to the stall of research progression. Since some of these techniques serve as the basis for future experimentation, many employers (in academia as well as industry) expect their candidates to be proficient and master them well. While there are many basic molecular biology techniques, we'll discuss the five most common techniques: 1. PCR Without doubt the most widely used technique in life science research. Since its invention in the early 80s, PCR has profoundly reshaped and advanced molecular biology techniques. Advanced techniques of PCR, such as reverse-transcription PCR (RT-PCR) and qualitative PCR (qPCR) have pushed forward the analysis of gene expression across different samples and today are common tools in molecular biology research labs. Thus, comprehensive knowledge of how each component of the reaction affects the reaction efficiency and efficacy can tremendously help troubleshoot problematic PCR experiments and is regarded as a must-have knowledge.
2. Molecular cloning The need to genetically engineer a gene to manipulate molecular, cellular and whole animal physiology has generated a multitude of tools and techniques. The most common technique of the whole 'molecular cloning' lot is ligation-dependent cloning, which utilizes the restriction of a DNA fragment and subsequent ligation into a linearized and compatible vector/plasmid. With time, and the advent of the PCR methodology, researchers developed alternatives such ligation-independent cloning (LIC), restriction free (RF) cloning and sequence independent cloning (SLIC), all of which bypass the need to restrict and ligate DNA fragment. These techniques are frequent impediments to research progress due to the difficulty in controlling the process of restriction/ligation or amplification by PCR.