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Life Science

  • What Genomics Says about Being Human Part I Drastic reductions in the cost of determining the nucleotide sequences of chromosomes have led to an explosion in the field of genomics, enabling scientists to add remarkable depth to our understanding of what it means to be human. View »
  • From Jellyfish to the Bench: How Green Fluorescent Protein Is Used in Research Students may be familiar with green fluorescent protein (GFP) from classwork or seeing transgenic animals in their local pet store. However, they may not know that it’s also an important research tool. Use this overview to help them discover how scientists use GFP to study many of the major questions in biology. View »
  • Bacteriophages in Human Disease: Friends and Foes Help your students understand the connection between bacteriophages and human disease. This scholarly overview explores how bacteriophages have helped and hindered humans in their quest to overcome certain diseases. Use it as assigned reading or to kick off a classroom discussion. View »
  • Bacterial Growth on MacConkey Agar In this lab students culture three bacteria on nutrient agar and MacConkey agar and record the results. View »
  • Introduction to Prokaryotes: Bacteria What are bacteria? In this introductory lab students make smears of bacteria on microscope slides from pure cultures, perform a simple stain, and observe their stained slides under a microscope View »
  • Isolating Bacteria from a Mixture How does a microbiologist isolate bacteria from a sample? In this lab students practice streaking a plate to isolate a single species of bacterium from a known mixture. View »
  • Introduction to Prokaryotes: Cyanobacteria In this lab students observe two examples of cyanobacteria and make a simple comparison to a eukaryotic green alga. View »
  • Introduction to Prokaryotes: Archaea In this lab, students are introduced to Halobacterium, a representative of the Archaea, one of the three domains of life (along with Bacteria and Eukarya). View »
  • Bacteria: The Citrate Test In this lab students perform a test on two different bacteria to determine whether the organisms can use citric acid as their sole carbon source. The citrate test is often performed as part of the IMViC (Indole, Methyl Red, Voges-Proskauer, and Citrate) series of tests used to differentiate common species of enteric bacteria. View »
  • Bacterial Hydrolysis of Casein In this lab, students culture two bacteria on skim milk agar. The protein casein gives milk its white color. Some bacteria secrete protease enzymes that can hydrolyze casein. When these bacteria are grown on skim milk agar a clear area develops around the colonies, indicating that casein has been hydrolyzed into its component amino acids. View »
  • Bacterial Motility In this lab, students perform two exercises that investigate microbial motility. One is on a microscopic level, using the “hanging drop” slide preparation method to directly observe motile cells. The second exercise is on a macroscopic level and involves inoculating motility test media. View »
  • Bacterial Hydrolysis of Lipids In this lab, students culture two species of bacteria on agar medium that contains an emulsion of plant oils and the dye, sprit blue, which forms a complex with the triglycerides of the oils and gives an opaque blue color to the agar. Colonies of bacteria that can secrete lipase, an enzyme that hydrolyzes triglycerides, develop a light area or “halo” in the surrounding medium, due to the diffusion of lipase into the medium and the resultant breakdown of the oil/spirit blue complex. View »