Gel Documentation

Nucleic acid and protein gels are a fundamental part of lab life. Gel documentation is a method used to record and measure labeled nucleic acid and protein in various types of media, like acrylamide, agarose, or cellulose. DNA or RNA is usually stained by ethidium bromide, which intercalates into the nucleic acids and can be visualized with UV light. Safer dyes for staining DNA (SYBR® Safe, SYBR® Gold, SYBR® Green) are also growing in popularity, and can imaged with blue light.

UV Imaging Ethidium Bromide
UV Imaging
Ethidium Bromide

How gel documentation systems image DNA and protein gels

Protein purification procedures often rely on verifying purity by SDS-PAGE and subsequent gel staining (Coomassie blue or silver stain) to check for contaminating protein bands. Gel documentation system are able to record and measure labeled protein and nucleic acid present across different media, such as cellulose or agarose.

Many stains, including TotalStain QAzureRed, Coomassie Fluor™, Deep Purple™, SYPRO® Ruby, SYPRO® Red, SYPRO® Tangerine, and more can be imaged with advanced digital imagers, such as the new chemiSOLO, or Azure Imaging Systems.

Scientist standing next to Azure 600
The Azure 600 gives you the flexibility you need for your research, while delivering solutions for quantitative Western Blot imaging. Azure Biosystems provides a unified Western Blot workflow, from the high-performance imaging system and analysis software to the reagents and consumables.

What is the best gel documentation system?

Azure Imagers are the perfect solution for high-performance gel documentation and analysis of gels. The Azure 200 has the imaging capabilities for all of these applications. With a dual-wavelength 302 nm and 365 nm UV transilluminator, ethidium bromide-stained DNA gels can be imaged in a fraction of a second. For excising bands from a gel, the UV transilluminator platform can be pulled out.

The Azure 400 and Azure 600 imagers, as well as the Azure Sapphire FL Biomolecular Imager, open up the ability to document protein gels stained with a wide variety of fluorescent protein stains that fluoresce in the visible spectrum. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Gel documentation systems (also called gel docs, or imagers) serve as enclosed darkrooms to block external light from entering the inside. These instruments are used to image gels,  Western blots, tissues, arrays, and more. Gel docs usually contain UV transillumination that excites dyes from beneath the area the sample is placed. Light travels through an emission filter, to a high-resolution camera where an image of the sample is collected.

Azure Imaging Systems use CCD cameras with fast lens options, auto detection, and 4.8 OD dynamic range to capture images. Learn more

Polyacrylamide gels form a crosslinked, mesh-like matrix through which proteins migrate with the application of current. The matrix functions like a sieve, allowing smaller, low molecular weight proteins to migrate quickly through the gel, while large, high molecular weight proteins tend to progress more slowly. When the electrophoresis is finished, proteins in each lane will be separated into a continuum, with the highest molecular weight proteins remaining near the loading site and the lowest molecular weight proteins reaching the opposite end of the gel. Read 6 tips on troubleshooting band separation

Proteins travel effectively through the gel matrix based exclusively on size.

During electrophoresis, proteins travel through a gel matrix with small pores, inside a small box, which is usually used in scientific labs. An electric current pushes the proteins through different pHs as they travel throughout the gel. The current acts like a little helper in each lane, pushing the proteins to their equilibrium state, where they won’t move. Learn more about SDS-PAGE


New to Western blotting? Need to troubleshoot your Western blot?​ Want to brush up on Western blotting best practices? Claim your free Western Blotting eBook!
Related Products
Azure Biosystems chemiSOLO personal chemiluminescent imager with lid open

A portable, personal chemiluminescent Western blot imager controlled by mobile device

Azure 600 Western blot Imaging system

Flexible gel docs for Western blots, DNA gels, and more

Azure Sapphire FL Biomolecular Imager with lid open

Laser and CCD-based scanning system for in-cell Westerns, Western blots, gels, and more

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