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Life Science

  • 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 Starch In this lab, students culture two bacteria on potato dextrose agar, which contains starch. When grown on potato dextrose agar, bacteria that can secrete amylase—an enzyme that hydrolyzes starch—create a zone around their colonies in which starch is absent. When the agar is flooded with iodine solution, most of the plate stains dark blue–black, but clear areas are left around colonies that secrete amylase. View »
  • Coming into the Genome Age Part II: Exploring Human Variation and Evolution This article introduces an experiment that allows students to use their own DNA differences (polymorphisms) to explore human variation, relatedness, and evolution. View »
  • Survival: Swim to the Light For this lab, students gather observations of algae in full light, change habitat conditions by reducing light, and apply the observations. Essential question: Can all organisms survive equally well in the same habitat? 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 »
  • Making Algae Beads In this activity students create spheres of green algae for use in experiments that explore the metabolic processes of plants. Includes a materials list and step-by-step instructions. View »
  • Coming into the Genome Age Part III: The Molecular Genetic Basis of PTC Tasting This experiment links genotype to phenotype and puts a contemporary spin on an old standby of classical genetics. View »
  • 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 »
  • Introduction to Photosynthesis Using Coleus Plants The simple exercises that students perform in this lab demonstrate that plants produce glucose through photosynthesis, that plants convert at least some of the glucose to starch, and that sunlight is a critical factor in photosynthesis. View »
  • Debunking the 4° C Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Myth Do samples need to be refrigerated immediately after PCR? No. You can leave them at room temperature overnight—and much longer! The founders of miniPCR® explore why. View »
  • Coming into the Genome Age Part IV: Detecting Transgenes in Genetically Modified Food Molecular genetic techniques have been used to add transgenes into the genomes of a number of important food plants. 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 »