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How to Use GFP

GFP is an acronym for Green Fluorescent Protein. Scientists won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for finding this glowing protein in a jellyfish species. Learn the basics about GFP’s use in observing cells and genes.


  • Step 1: Learn what GFP is Learn what GFP is. This irredescent protein comes from the crystal jellyfish and is used as a marking tool by molecular biologists to illuminate and track cells and genes.
  • TIP: Before GFP’s discovery, dyes were used to mark cells, but wound up killing those cells. GFP does not kill cells.
  • Step 2: Use a GFP science project kit Use a GFP student science project kit available through educational science companies.
  • TIP: Kits come with a plasmid that is a mixture of bacteria and GFP, so caution in handling is important.
  • Step 3: Learn how to observe GFP Learn how to observe GFP with student science project kits, each made for GFP experiments of varying degrees of difficulty. You don’t need an expensive microscope to see GFP, just a dark room and a UV penlight.
  • Step 4: Learn how GFP is used Learn how GFP is used. Harvard scientists use GFP to map the neural circuits of the brain in lab mice. GFP can track cancer cells in detail as they develop. It can also be used to detect biological agents planted by terrorists.
  • FACT: Artist Eduardo Kac stirred controversy with his 'GFP Bunny' installation, a GFP-implanted rabbit that glowed green under a blue light.

You Will Need

  • GFP science project kit
  • Dark room
  • UV penlight

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