Preservation: A Sweet Solution
Caitlin Mungall
Prince of Wales Secondary
Floor Location : M 135 D

Formalin is a compound comprised of 30-40% formaldehyde, and is used chiefly as a preservative of biological specimens. However, given the numerous health hazards associated with this standard tissue fixative, identifying a non-toxic, widely available, and economic substitute with similar preserving capabilities is highly desirable. As Amber (fossilized tree sap) has preserved insects almost perfectly since the Cretaceous Period, and previous studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of honey as an alternative preservative, it was hypothesized that another sugary syrup, maple syrup, may also have preserving capabilities. I have previously demonstrated that the cellular morphology of Crassula Ovata plant tissue fixed in varying concentrations (10-40%) of maple syrup and honey yielded promising results. This year an experiment was conducted on the quantity and quality of DNA in the same fixed and paraffin embedded tissue samples. A complex process was carried out involving: sectioning of tissues, extraction of DNA, Qubit quants, agarose gel electrophoresis, gel imaging and data analysis. It was determined that DNA fragments extracted from maple syrup fixed tissues were of comparable size to that of formalin. These results have high clinical relevance, as the risk to those who are currently handling formalin on a daily basis (such as pathologists and histopathologists) may be significantly reduced.