Comparison of TAE and TBE Electrophoresis Buffers

Both TAE (Tris-Acetate EDTA) and TBE (Tris-Borate EDTA) are common electrophoresis buffers for DNA agarose gel electrophoresis. However, they are quite different in nature, have some useful features and also some disadvantages. You can maximize your results by choosing an electrophoresis buffer that is most compatible for your application. The following table lists their properties, and advantages and disadvantages, and also provides explanation for their peculiar behaviour.

Buffering capacityLowLowTAE become exhausted during extended or repeated electrophoresis
Migration of (double-stranded) DNAFastSlowTAE has better conductivity
ResolutionHigh resolution for short DNA fragmentsHigh resolution for large DNA fragmentsTBE supports agarose cross-linking better than TAE
Enzymatic modification of gel-purified DNAGoodPoorBorate from TBE buffer is an inhibitor of many commonly used enzymes in molecular biology
Recovery of DNA from agarose gelGoodPoorBorate from TBE buffer interacts with DNA
Integrity of DNALowHighBorate from TBE buffer inhibits many enzyme activities including DNA modifying enzymes
Active bufferTris -AcetateTris – Borate 
Working concentration for DNA electrophoresis1X0.5X 

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