Nucleic acid gel stains

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Nucleic acid gel stains


Safer alternatives for traditional gel stains


Ethidium bromide has been used for decades to detect nucleic acids in agarose gels because it is inexpensive, sensitive enough for routine applications, and simple to use. However, because ethidium bromide has been shown to be mutagenic in the Ames test, it is potentially hazardous to laboratory workers and the environment, and institutions commonly require it to be disposed of as hazardous waste. Because of this, many users seek to find safer alternatives to ethidium bromide for gel electrophoresis. Biotium developed red fluorescent GelRed™ and green fluorescent GelGreen™ as safer replacements for ethidium bromide. GelRed™ and GelGreen™ are non-toxic and non-mutagenic because they do not bind DNA in living cells due to their membrane impermeability.

A number of other alternative gel stains have been marketed as safer alternatives to ethidium bromide. Biotium performed a comparison of several alternative gel stains to evaluate their live cell permeability and sensitivity in gel staining. They found that many of these gel stains are membrane permeable dyes that readily penetrate living cells and stain the nucleus and other cellular structures. Chemical analysis showed that several of these products contain dyes that are known to be cytotoxic and to potentiate DNA damage by mutagens. In contrast, GelRed™ and GelGreen™ do not readily penetrate the nuclei of living cells. Furthermore, GelRed™ and GelGreen™ provide superior sensitivity in gel staining compared to other so-called safe nucleic acid gel stain



GelRed® and GelGreen®

GelRed® has red fluorescence like ethidium bromide (EtBr), but is a safer option as it cannot penetrate cell membranes to bind DNA in living cells. It can be used for agarose, polyacrylamide, DGGE, EMSA, PFGE, and formaldehyde gels.

GelGreen® has green fluorescence and is a much safer alternative to SYBR® Green, SYBR® Safe, EZ-Vision® RedSafe ™, MidoriGreen, GreenSafe, SafeView ™ Classic and more. Unlike GelRed®, GelGreen®
is compatible with blue light transilluminators, which allow users to avoid exposing themselves and their DNA samples to ultraviolet radiation.




Benefits of GelRed® and GelGreen®:

• Ultra-sensitive and stable

• Stable at room temperature

• Compatible with standard UV transilluminators

• Use in precast gels or as a post-stain

• Non-toxic or mutagenic (non-hazardous waste)

• Compatible with downstream applications such as cloning and sequencing

GelRed & Gel Green

PAGE GelRed® for acrylamide gels

PAGE GelRed® is a version of the popular GelRed® dye that was specially formulated for staining DNA in polyacrylamide gels (PAGE gels).
Like the classic GelRed®, PAGE GelRed® has also been found to be safe and environmental friendly by independent laboratories. DNAsure & DNA gel stain

DNAzure® visible nucleic acid stain

This gel stain visualize blue DNA bands in agarose and polyacrylamide gels. The key to the technology is a DNA-binding dye that turns from colourless to deep blue upon exposure to bright light, removing the need for DNA damaging UV light. The blue staining is long-lasting and doesn’t require any further light source, making it ideal for cutting out bands. This ultrasensitive stain can detect as little as ~1 ng of dsDNA, making it more sensitive than most fluorescent DNA gel stains.


Cat. no.




GelRed® Nucleic Acid Gel Stain, 10 000X

0,5 ml


GelGreen® Nucleic Acid Gel Stain, 10 000X in DMSO

0,5 ml


PAGE GelRed® Nucleic Acid Gel Stain, 10,000X in water

0,1 ml


PAGE GelRed® Nucleic Acid Gel Stain, 10,000X in water  

0,5 ml


PAGE GelRed® Nucleic Acid Gel Stain, 1X in water                          

4 L


DNAzure® Blue Nucleic Acid Gel Stain, 100X                                    

10 ml



Get to know more about Biotium products: 





CF® Dyes 

Next-Generation Fluorescent Dyes  







Cellular Stains 

Selection guide for live and fixed cell staining 







Products for Flow Cytometry






DNA and RNA quantitation


For more information, please contact:

Maria Kam Eriksen   


   Product Manager
   Maria Kam Eriksen
   +45 2244 8243