Calculations for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology

Calculations for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology

A Guide to Mathematics in the Laboratory

3rd Edition - June 15, 2016

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  • Author: Frank Stephenson
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128025987
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128022115

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Calculations in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Third Edition, helps researchers utilizing molecular biology and biotechnology techniques—from student to professional—understand which type of calculation to use and why. Research in biotechnology and molecular biology requires a vast amount of calculations. Results of one data set become the basis of the next. An error of choosing the wrong type of equation can turn what would have been a successful research project or weeks of labor and research into a veritable house of cards. It could be how you calculated the medium in which you test your sample to calculating how long it takes a sample to grow to calculating the synthesis of multiple variables. In one easy to use reference, Stephenson reviews the mathematics and statistics related to the day-to-day functions of biotechnology and molecular biology labs, which is a sticking point for many students, technicians, and researchers. The book covers all of the basic mathematical and statistical needs for students and professionals, providing them with a useful tool for their work.

Key Features

  • Features comprehensive calculations in biotechnology and molecular biology experiments from start to finish
  • Provides coverage ranging from basic scientific notations to complex subjects like nucleic acid chemistry and recombinant DNA technology
  • Includes recent applications of the procedures and computations in clinical, academic, industrial, and basic research laboratories cited throughout the text
  • Features new coverage of digital PCR and protein quantification including chromatography and radiolabelling of proteins
  • Includes more sample problems in every chapter for readers to practice concepts


Researchers, lab professionals, and students in molecular biology and biotechnology

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1. Scientific Notation and Metric Prefixes

    • Introduction
    • 1.1. Significant Digits
    • 1.2. Exponents and Scientific Notation
    • 1.3. Metric Prefixes
    • Chapter Summary

    Chapter 2. Solutions, Mixtures, and Media

    • Introduction
    • 2.1. Calculating Dilutions: A General Approach
    • 2.2. Concentrations by a Factor of X
    • 2.3. Preparing Percent Solutions
    • 2.4. Diluting Percent Solutions
    • 2.5. Moles and Molecular Weight—Definitions
    • 2.6. Normality
    • 2.7. pH
    • 2.8. pKa and The Henderson–Hasselbalch Equation
    • Chapter Summary

    Chapter 3. Cell Growth

    • 3.1. The Bacterial Growth Curve
    • 3.2. Manipulating Cell Concentration
    • 3.3. Plotting OD550 Versus Time on a Linear Graph
    • 3.4. Plotting the Logarithm of OD550 Versus Time on a Linear Graph
    • 3.5. Plotting the Log of Cell Concentration Versus Time
    • 3.6. Calculating Generation Time
    • 3.7. Plotting Cell Growth Data on a Semilog Graph
    • 3.8. Plotting Cell Concentration Versus Time on a Semilog Graph
    • 3.9. Determining Generation Time Directly From a Semilog Plot of Cell Concentration Versus Time
    • 3.10. Plotting Cell Density Versus OD550 on a Semilog Graph
    • 3.11. The Fluctuation Test
    • 3.12. Measuring Mutation Rate
    • 3.13. Measuring Cell Concentration on a Hemocytometer
    • Chapter Summary

    Chapter 4. Working with Bacteriophage

    • Introduction
    • 4.1. Multiplicity of Infection
    • 4.2. Probabilities and Multiplicity of Infection
    • 4.3. Measuring Phage Titer
    • 4.4. Diluting Bacteriophage
    • 4.5. Measuring Burst Size
    • Chapter Summary

    Chapter 5. Nucleic Acid Quantification

    • 5.1. Quantification of Nucleic Acids by Ultraviolet Spectroscopy
    • 5.2. Determining the Concentration of Double-Stranded DNA
    • 5.3. Determining the Concentration of Single-Stranded DNA Molecules
    • 5.4. Oligonucleotide Quantification
    • 5.5. Measuring RNA Concentration
    • 5.6. Molecular Weight, Molarity, and Nucleic Acid Length
    • 5.7. Estimating DNA Concentration on an Ethidium Bromide-Stained Gel
    • 5.8. Dye-Labeled Nucleic Acids
    • 5.9. Limit of Detection and Limit of Quantitation
    • Chapter Summary

    Chapter 6. Labeling Nucleic Acids With Radioisotopes

    • Introduction
    • 6.1. Units of Radioactivity: The Curie
    • 6.2. Estimating Plasmid Copy Number
    • 6.3. Labeling DNA by Nick Translation
    • 6.4. Random Primer Labeling of DNA
    • 6.5. Labeling 3′ Termini With Terminal Transferase
    • 6.6. Complementary DNA Synthesis
    • 6.7. Homopolymeric Tailing
    • 6.8. In Vitro Transcription
    • Chapter Summary

    Chapter 7. Oligonucleotide Synthesis

    • Introduction
    • 7.1. Synthesis Yield
    • 7.2. Measuring Stepwise and Overall Yield by the Dimethoxytrityl Cation Assay
    • 7.3. Calculating Micromoles of Nucleoside Added at Each Base Addition Step
    • Chapter Summary

    Chapter 8. The Polymerase Chain Reaction

    • Introduction
    • 8.1. Template and Amplification
    • 8.2. Exponential Amplification
    • 8.3. Polymerase Chain Reaction Efficiency
    • 8.4. Calculating the Tm of the Target Sequence
    • 8.5. Primers
    • 8.6. Primer Tm
    • 8.7. Deoxynucleoside Triphosphates
    • 8.8. DNA Polymerase
    • 8.9. Quantitative PCR
    • Chapter Summary

    Chapter 9. Real-Time PCR

    • Introduction
    • 9.1. The Phases of a Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
    • 9.2. Controls
    • 9.3. Absolute Quantification by the TaqMan Assay
    • 9.4. Amplification Efficiency
    • 9.5. Measuring Gene Expression
    • 9.6. Relative Quantification: The ΔΔCT Method
    • 9.7. Relative Standard Curve Method
    • 9.8. Relative Quantification by Reaction Kinetics
    • 9.9. The R0 Method of Relative Quantification
    • 9.10. The Pfaffl Model
    • 9.11. Digital Polymerase Chain Reaction
    • Chapter Summary

    Chapter 10. Recombinant DNA

    • Introduction
    • 10.1. Restriction Endonucleases
    • 10.2. Calculating the Amount of Fragment Ends
    • 10.3. Ligation
    • 10.4. Genomic Libraries—How Many Clones Do You Need?
    • 10.5. cDNA Libraries—How Many Clones Are Enough?
    • 10.6. Expression Libraries
    • 10.7. Screening Recombinant Libraries by Hybridization to DNA Probes
    • 10.8. Sizing DNA Fragments by Gel Electrophoresis
    • 10.9. Generating Nested Deletions Using Nuclease BAL 31
    • Chapter Summary

    Chapter 11. Protein

    • Introduction
    • 11.1. Calculating a Protein's Molecular Weight From Its Sequence
    • 11.2. Determining a Protein's Molecular Weight by Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate Polyacrylamide Gel Electrophoresis
    • 11.3. Protein Quantification by Measuring Absorbance at 280nm
    • 11.4. Using Absorbance Coefficients and Extinction Coefficients to Estimate Protein Concentration
    • 11.5. Relating Concentration in Milligrams per Milliliter to Molarity
    • 11.6. Protein Quantitation Using A280 When Contaminating Nucleic Acids Are Present
    • 11.7. Protein Quantification at 205nm
    • 11.8. Protein Quantitation at 205nm When Contaminating Nucleic Acids Are Present
    • 11.9. Labeling Proteins With Fluorescent Dyes
    • 11.10. Measuring Protein Concentration by Colorimetric Assay—The Bradford Assay
    • 11.11. Thin-Layer Chromatography and Rf
    • 11.12. Estimating a Protein's Molecular Weight by Gel Filtration
    • 11.13. Protein Volume
    • 11.14. Using β-Galactosidase to Monitor Promoter Activity and Gene Expression
    • 11.15. The Chloramphenicol Acetyltransferase Assay
    • 11.16. Use of Luciferase in a Reporter Assay
    • 11.17. DNA Polymerase Activity
    • 11.18. In Vitro Translation—Determining Amino Acid Incorporation
    • 11.19. The Isoelectric Point of a Protein
    • Chapter Summary

    Chapter 12. Centrifugation

    • Introduction
    • 12.1. Relative Centrifugal Force (g Force)
    • 12.2. Calculating Sedimentation Times
    • Chapter Summary

    Chapter 13. Forensics and Paternity

    • Introduction
    • 13.1. Alleles and Genotypes
    • 13.2. The Hardy–Weinberg Equation and Calculating Expected Genotype Frequencies
    • 13.3. The Chi-Square Test—Comparing Observed to Expected Values
    • 13.4. The Power of Inclusion
    • 13.5. The Power of Discrimination
    • 13.6. DNA Typing and a Weighted Average
    • 13.7. The Multiplication Rule
    • 13.8. The Paternity Index
    • Chapter Summary
    • More Problems

    Appendix A. Using Microsoft Excel's Graphing Utility

Product details

  • No. of pages: 496
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2016
  • Published: June 15, 2016
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128025987
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128022115

About the Author

Frank Stephenson

Frank Stephenson received his doctorate in molecular biology from UC Berkeley and has published several books in the field including 'DNA: How the Biotech Revolution is Changing the Way We Fight Disease' and 'A Hands-On Introduction to Forensic Science: Cracking the Case'. He is currently an instructor in the Technical Training Department with ThermoFisher Scientific, the world’s leading manufacturer of instrumentation and reagents for the biotechnology industry.

Affiliations and Expertise

Technical Training Department, ThermoFisher Scientific, San Diego, CA, USA

Ratings and Reviews

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  • Felise W. Thu Feb 01 2018

    Calculations for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology

    We are using this as a textbook for a laboratory course to teach undergraduate college students math within a molecular biology lab context. Topics are excellent: current and appropriate to a research lab. It's an excellent reference for professional scientists to review lab techniques and concepts they may not have thought about since college. There are a few typos and math errors in the book, which a mature scientist can look past, but are confusing and potentially misleading for students, hence the rating is one star less than five.