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C&EN’s Chemistry in Pictures Photo Contest

May 22, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 21

This is what your DNA looks like

A test tube has blueish strands streaming up from a pinkish red mass.
Credit: Amy Davis Roth
Extracting DNA from strawberries is a classic demonstration used in biochemistry and biology classrooms that allows students to see DNA with the naked eye. The red layer at the bottom of this test tube is a mixture of mashed strawberries, water, table salt, and dish detergent. The soapy detergent helps dissolve the membranes of the fruit’s cells, releasing their DNA. The salt then binds to the negatively charged DNA strands. Added rubbing alcohol causes the DNA-salt complex to clump up into visible strands.—Craig Bettenhausen
Submitted by Amy Davis Roth.

Congratulations to Amy Davis Roth, the winner of the 2016 Chemistry in Pictures Photo Contest grand prize! Her prize-winning photo has garnered more than 2,500 interactions on Tumblr and other social media. View the original post at

Roth is a multimedia artist from Valley Glen, Calif. In addition to her photography, Roth makes her Surly-Ramics line of handmade jewelry that is “inspired by knowledge and nature and encourages science communication, humanism and critical thinking.” She also hosts Makers’ Hustle, a podcast about turning your artistic passion into a profession. You can follow her on Twitter at @SurlyAmy.

The photo contest is ongoing at Each month, C&EN editors select and publish our favorite reader submissions in C&EN Chemistry in Pictures. Monthly winners receive a $50 cash prize. This year’s grand prize winner will receive a Canon Digital SLR Camera.


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