Research Highlights

doi:10.1038/nindia.2013.82 Published online 24 June 2013

Dissolving DNA rapidly

Reaserchers at the Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute in Gujarat have synthesised new bio-based ionic liquids that can dissolve DNA quickly, retain its structural and chemical stability for a long time and can be reused a number of times. These new ionic liquids hold promise for a variety of applications where DNA biomolecules find use as advanced material.

DNA nanomachines are being designed for possible applications in molecular sensing, intelligent drug delivery and programmable chemical synthesis. DNA polymer hybrid materials are used for bioanalysis, as biomedicine and stimuli-responsive materials. For effective and sustainable application, DNA needs a suitable solvent capable of dissolving it at high concentration without affecting its chemical and structural stability.

The researchers were able to dissolve DNA from salmon testes in two new types of bio-based ionic liquids (choline-Indole-3-acetate and choline-Indole-3-butyrate) at concentrations upto 3.5 % weight/weight (w/w) in six hours as opposed to existing ones that dissolve up to 0.1% w/w in 3 to 4 weeks.

They found no degradation or denaturation of DNA during the dissolution process.

The DNA sample stored in one of the ionic liquid at room temperature for six months also showed structural and chemical stability. The researchers were able to recycle the ionic liquid after recovering DNA and successfully reused it for three consecutive cycles of re-dissolution of fresh DNA samples without compromising the structure integrity. The yield of the recycled ionic liquid was very high (90-95%).

"These ionic liquids are non toxicity, sustainable, rapid in dissolving DNA and easy to synthesise," says lead researcher Kamalesh Prasad. The ionic liquids will contribute towards sustainable processing and chemical derivation of the biopolymer for application in newer fields, he says.


  1. Mukesh, C. et al. Rapid dissolution of DNA in a novel bio-based ionic liquid with long-term structural and chemical stability: successful recycling of the ionic liquid for reuse in the process. Chem. Commun. (2013) doi: 10.1039/C3CC42829J