The bourgeoning biotechnology industry has developed a number of techniques based on looking at the nucleic acid in the cell. The principals employed in the technique are similar whether a desoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) or ribose nucleic acid (RNA) probe is used. A culture is subjected to heat to denature it, and a specific single-stranded DNA probe is introduced, which binds to a target on the cell DNA; this double-stranded section is detected by a suitable label. A commercial RNA probe kit is available that uses an enzyme to cut up the bacterial DNA, and an RNA probe is used to target the fragments. In both techniques amplification (i.e., the production of numerous copies using techniques such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR)), may also be utilized to increase the response. It is the pattern of hybridized nucleic acid that is used as the means of identification. This technique can produce results in hours but does currently require a different skills set from the microbiology department. However, as commercial apparatus is further developed, the technique will be reduced to "button pushing" and arguably will sit more readily in the chemical QC section.
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