DNA From an Onion

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In this genetics activity, learners extract DNA from an onion, using detergent solution, a food processor, and rubbing alcohol. They will also discuss genetic engineering of plants.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • ½ cup of water
  • ¼ tsp non-iodized salt
  • 3 drops of liquid dish detergent
  • ½ tsp meat tenderizer
  • 1/3 cup rubbing alcohol (chilled in freezer)
  • Half a medium-sized onion, sectioned
  • Cheesecloth or similar fabric


  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
      • Cell Structure and Function
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
    • Heredity and Genetics
      • Human Genetics
      • DNA Structure and Function
      • Genetic Engineering

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, COSI Columbus, 2009