Ancient DNA Room
Because we work with ancient DNA and are very concerned about contamination, we have a unique laboratory setup where we keep PCR preparation spatially and temporally separated from PCR products. This photo shows our ancient DNA (aDNA) room, the most carefully regulated room in the lab where DNA is extracted from old tissues such as teeth and skins. Obviously these samples are irreplaceable. In order to prevent contamination, this room is under positive airflow (to keep random DNA from entering the room). The room is also equipped with UV lamps, so that the entire room and its equipment can be irradiated with UV light and bleached, destroying unwanted DNA fragments before each experiment. This room is used for aDNA extractions and aDNA PCR setups.
As DNA extractions from modern tissues, such as muscle, do not require the kind of precautions that we take when working with aDNA, special facilities are not needed. If the same facilities were used for both types of extractions, DNA from modern samples might contaminate aDNA samples. Therefore, modern DNA extractions and PCR setups are done at the bench shown here.
Once the ancient or modern DNA has been extracted in the clean rooms, it is brought next door for PCR amplification, visualization on electrophoresis gels, and imaging. All post-PCR work is done in the room shown here, which is completely separated from the PCR-setup rooms shown above. Usually this is accomplished by a different person. This room is also used for cloning.
We store tens of thousands of ancient teeth and bones, modern teeth, skins and specimens from raptor pellets and carnivore scats. These specimens come from a variety of localities we have researched around the world. In the morph lab we sort, identify, store and analyze these materials. Eventually many of these specimens will be cataloged into museums elsewhere. We also house a small comparative collection for teaching.
The students and postdoctoral scholars of the Hadly lab, and often students rotating from other labs, are housed in the Hadly Labs, where they have access to several workstations, our reprint collection and meeting space.