TBE buffer

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TBE or Tris/Borate/EDTA, is a buffer solution containing a mixture of Tris base, boric acid and EDTA.

In molecular biology, TBE and TAE buffers are often used in procedures involving nucleic acids, the most common being electrophoresis. Tris-acid solutions are effective buffers for slightly basic conditions, which keep DNA deprotonated and soluble in water. EDTA is a chelator of divalent cations, particularly of magnesium (Mg2+). As these ions are necessary co-factors for many enzymes, including contaminant nucleases, the role of the EDTA is to protect the nucleic acids against enzymatic degradation. But since Mg2+ is also a co-factor for many useful DNA-modifying enzymes such as restriction enzymes and DNA polymerases, its concentration in TBE or TAE buffers is generally kept low (typically at around 1 mM).

More recently discovered substitutes for TBE and TAE buffers for electrophoresis are available.[1]

Recipe (1 liter of 5X stock solution)[edit]

TBE can be diluted to 1X prior to use in electrophoresis, 0.5x is acceptable as well.

See also[edit]

  • LB buffer, lithium borate buffer, a similar buffer containing lithium ions in place of Tris
  • TAE buffer, a similar buffer containing acetic acid in place of boric acid


  1. ^ Brody, J.R., Kern, S.E. (2004) History and principles of conductive media for standard DNA electrophoresis. Anal Biochem. 333(1):1-13. doi:10.1016/j.ab.2004.05.054 PMID 15351274 PDF