DNA electrophoresis is the separation of DNA molecules in an electric field according to size. The shorter the negatively charged DNA molecules are, the faster they migrate through the gel matrix towards the anode. Agarose is the most commonly used matix but polyacrylamide is often used for very small DNA fragments. Since the migration speed also depends on the shape of the DNA molecules, plasmids have to be linearised with restriction enzymes for size determination.

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