Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a method used in many research protocols to amplify a small amount of a short segment of DNA to millions of copies. PCR is used for many taxonomic studies, as well as for some medical diagnostic procedures. Through PCR, short DNA primers bind to the template DNA to allow the thermostable DNA polymerase to copy the DNA. Often, researchers create universal primers to target a conserved region of DNA in multiple species, for example, the 16S rRNA gene in bacteria. The problem with these universal primers is that they do not always perfectly match the target DNA. The mismatch primers can still bind to the template, but could affect the efficiency of the PCR amplification. The effect of mismatch primers on the efficiency of the amplification in PCR is the focus of this thesis. Four forward primers with various mismatch overhangs were generated and incorporated into a DNA template through an initial PCR. These primers contained the binding region complementary to the V3/V4 region of the 16S rRNA bacterial gene. Further quantitative PCR (qPCR) reactions were run on these newly-made templates using two sets of primers complementary to the 16S rRNA gene region – one with ambiguous base pairs, one with unambiguous base pairs. The qPCR amplification curves, the Cq values, and the initial concentrations of DNA products (seed values) were analyzed and compared. The results showed differences in the Cq values and seed values between the reactions containing mismatches and those not containing mismatches. Other variables including annealing temperature, addition of Illumina sequencing tails to the primers, and initial primer concentration were also tested to determine if these variables had an effect on the amplification. The results from these reactions using different variables were inconclusive.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair

Moore, Sean


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Medicine


Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences


Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access