Reliable measurement of DNA concentration is essential for a broad range of applications in biology and molecular biology, and for many of these, quantifying the nucleic acid content is inextricably linked to obtaining optimal results. In its most simplistic form, quantitative analysis of nucleic acids can be accomplished by UV-Vis absorbance and, in more sophisticated format, by fluorimetry. A recently reported new concept, the ‘pinwheel assay’, involves a label-free approach for quantifying DNA through aggregation of paramagnetic beads in a rotating magnetic field. Here, we describe a simplified version of that assay adapted for execution using only a pipet and filter paper. The ‘pipette, aggregate, and blot’ (PAB) approach allows DNA to induce bead aggregation in a pipette tip through exposure to a magnetic field, followed by dispensing (blotting) onto filter paper. The filter paper immortalises the extent of aggregation, and digital images of the immortalized bead conformation, acquired with either a document scanner or a cell phone camera, allows for DNA quantification using a noncomplex algorithm. Human genomic DNA samples extracted from blood are quantified with the PAB approach and the results utilized to define the volume of sample used in a PCR reaction that is sensitive to input mass of template DNA. Integrating the PAB assay with paper-based DNA extraction and detection modalities has the potential to yield ‘DNA quant-on-paper’ devices that may be useful for point-of-care testing.
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