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PCR Glossary

Base pair (bp): Two nitrogenous bases (adenine and thymine or guanine and cytosine) held together by weak hydrogen bonds.

Base sequence: The order of nucleotide bases in a DNA molecule.

Double helix: The shape that two single strands of DNA assume when bonded together.

Nucleotide: Building block of DNA consisting of a nitrogenous base (adenine, guanine, thymine, or cytosine). Thousands of nucleotides are linked to form DNA.

Polymerase: An enzyme that catalyzes the formation of DNA from an existing strand of DNA.

Primer: Short segment of nucleotides that are complementary to a section of the template DNA which is amplified in the PCR reaction.

Probe: In Quantitative PCR, single-stranded DNA molecules of specific base sequence, which are used to detect the complementary base sequence.

Single strand: Half of the complementary DNA strand found in the double helix.

Thermal Cycler: A heating/cooling instrument used to perform PCR reactions.