Over the last few months (and in coming months), we’ve presented a series of protocols for genotyping and DNA isolation in a variety of model organisms. Much of this material was adapted in advance from Genetic Variation: A Laboratory Manual, which is now available from CSHL Press. It’s a difficult subject for a laboratory manual, as it’s such a rapidly advancing field, and the question when it was proposed was, is it possible to put together a manual that isn’t obsolete the moment it’s published?

The editors, Michael Weiner, Stacey Gabriel and J. Claiborne Stephens have done a great job avoiding this immediate obsolescence by widening the scope of the manual beyond that normally seen in such a book. Only one section really contains the step-by-step sorts of protocols one associates with a laboratory manual. The rest of Genetic Variation gives vital basic information, much of which is practical in nature and will greatly help in the design of experiments and in conducting the actual research. The first section of the book directly addresses study design and gives instructions on how to use the available tools and databases. A later section covers analysis of collected data, including chapters on getting the most “bang for your buck”, on the visualization of complex data sets and applying data sets to the study of evolution and natural selection. The final two sections of the book give a overview of knowledge of variation in many commonly used model organisms and in humans. All in all, it makes for a really useful book, a great introduction for novices and a handy tool for those experienced in the field. Like our recent Epigenetics textbook, by putting the focus on understanding the basic concepts rather than the (likely-to-change-quickly) details, this manual should continue to be of use for a long while.

You can see some of the protocols from Genetic Variation at CSH Protocols, including Genotyping by Oligonucleotide Ligation Assay (OLA), Genotyping by Allele-Specific Amplification (KASPar), and SNP Mining from Maize 454 EST Sequences.Genetic Variation:  A Laboratory Manual