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Onion DNA Extraction

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    National Health Museum

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Onion DNA Extraction

This laboratory exercise is designed to show learners how DNA can easily be extracted from onion cells using simple materials. Use this experiment to supplement any unit on genetics and to demonstrate how scientists study DNA. Adult supervision is recommended. This resource guide includes tips and suggestions for instructors as well as other DNA extraction experiments and a chart for learners to answer questions.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • fresh onions
  • graduated cylinders (10ml and 100ml)
  • knife
  • 15 ml test tube
  • blender
  • test tube rack or 250 ml beaker
  • strainer
  • glass stirring rod
  • coffee filters
  • non-iodized salt
  • Adolph's natural meat tenderizer
  • Palmolive detergent
  • beaker
  • distilled water
  • ice cold 95% ethanol


  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
      • Cell Structure and Function
      • Chemistry of Life
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
    • Heredity and Genetics
      • DNA Structure and Function
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemistry of Life
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Hays, Lana


  • All Rights Reserved, Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum, ©2009


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