1887

Microbes in Mascara: Hypothesis-Driven Research in a Nonmajor Biology Lab

    Authors: Kathryn M. Burleson1,*, Betsy M. Martinez-Vaz1
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    Affiliations: 1: Biology Department, Hamline University, St. Paul, MN 55104-1284
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 01 December 2011
    • Supplemental material available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Hamline University Biology Department, Hamline University, Box 0182, 1536 Hewitt Ave, St. Paul, MN 55104-1284. Phone: (651) 523-2692. Fax: (651) 523-2620. E-mail: kburleson01@hamline.edu.
    • Copyright © 2011 American Society for Microbiology
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2011 vol. 12 no. 2 166-175. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v12i2.320
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    Abstract:

    In this laboratory exercise, students were taught concepts of microbiology and scientific process through an everyday activity — cosmetic use. The students’ goals for the lab were to develop a hypothesis regarding microbial contamination in cosmetics, learn techniques to culture and differentiate microorganisms from cosmetics, and propose best practices in cosmetics use based on their findings. Prior to the lab, students took a pretest to assess their knowledge of scientific hypotheses, microbiology, and cosmetic safety. In the first week, students were introduced to microbiological concepts and methodologies, and cosmetic terminology and safety. Students completed a hypothesis-writing exercise before formulating and testing their own hypotheses regarding cosmetic contamination. Students provided a cosmetic of their own and, in consultation with their lab group, chose one product for testing. Samples were serially diluted and plated on a variety of selective media. In the second week, students analyzed their plates to determine the presence and diversity of microbes and if their hypotheses were supported. Students completed a worksheet of their results and were given a posttest to assess their knowledge. Average test scores improved from 5.2 (pretest) to 7.8 (posttest), with p-values < 0.0001. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of students correctly identified hypotheses that were not falsifiable or lacked variables, and 89% of students improved their scores on questions concerning safe cosmetic use. Ninety-one percent (91%) of students demonstrated increased knowledge of microbial concepts and methods. Based on our results, this lab is an easy, yet effective, way to enhance knowledge of scientific concepts for nonmajors, while maintaining relevance to everyday life.

Key Concept Ranking

Selective Media
0.6654337
Nutrient Agar
0.59375
Sodium Chloride
0.50277215
Methylene Blue
0.50277215
Gram-Negative Bacteria
0.4714406
0.6654337

References & Citations

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2. Antignac E, Nohynek GJ, Re T, Clouzeau J, Toutain H2011Safety of botanical ingredients in personal care products/cosmeticsFood ChemToxicol4932434110.1016/j.fct.2010.11.022 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2010.11.022
3. Arvidson C, Chen J, Foster D, Viswanathan P, Barney E, Guibord M2009Cultivation media for bacteriaAvailable from the MicrobeLibrary website: http://www.microbelibrary.org/library/laboratory-test/2782-cultivation-media-for-bacteria
4. Brannan DK, Dille JC, Kaufman DJ1987Correlation of in vitro challenge testing with consumer use testing for cosmetic productsAppl Environ Microbiol53182718323662517
5. Brannan DK, Dille JC1990Type of closure prevents microbial contamination of cosmetics during consumer useAppl Environ Microbiol56147614792339896
6. Casotti G, Rieser-Danner L, Knabb MT2008Successful implementation of inquiry-based physiology laboratories in undergraduate major and nonmajor coursesAdv Physiol Educ3228629610.1152/advan.00100.200719047505 http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/advan.00100.2007
7. Davis BG2009Tools for teaching2nd. edSan Francisco, CAJossey-Bass (John Wiley & Sons)
8. Gorman W2010Stream water quality and service learning in an Introductory Biology classJMBE11212710.1128/jmbe.v11i1.140 http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v11i1.140
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10. Hare JM2008Sabouraud agar for fungal growth protocolsAvailable from the MicrobeLibrary website: http://www.microbelibrary.org/library/laboratory-test/3156-sabouraud-agar-for-fungal-growth-protocols
11. Lundov MD, Moesby L, Zachariae C, Johansen JD2009Contamination versus preservation of cosmetics: a review on legislation, usage, infections, and contact allergyContact Dermatitis.60707810.1111/j.1600-0536.2008.01501.x19207376 http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0536.2008.01501.x
12. Marsh TL, Arriola PE2009The science of salsa: Antimicrobial properties of salsa components to learn scientific methodologyJMBE103810.1128/jmbe.v10.93 http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v10.93
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14. The National Women’s Health Information CenterCosmetics and your health fact sheet2004Department of Health and Human ServicesWashington, D.CAvailable from www.womenshealth.gov/faq/cosmetics-your-health.cfm
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2011-12-01
2017-03-23

Abstract:

In this laboratory exercise, students were taught concepts of microbiology and scientific process through an everyday activity — cosmetic use. The students’ goals for the lab were to develop a hypothesis regarding microbial contamination in cosmetics, learn techniques to culture and differentiate microorganisms from cosmetics, and propose best practices in cosmetics use based on their findings. Prior to the lab, students took a pretest to assess their knowledge of scientific hypotheses, microbiology, and cosmetic safety. In the first week, students were introduced to microbiological concepts and methodologies, and cosmetic terminology and safety. Students completed a hypothesis-writing exercise before formulating and testing their own hypotheses regarding cosmetic contamination. Students provided a cosmetic of their own and, in consultation with their lab group, chose one product for testing. Samples were serially diluted and plated on a variety of selective media. In the second week, students analyzed their plates to determine the presence and diversity of microbes and if their hypotheses were supported. Students completed a worksheet of their results and were given a posttest to assess their knowledge. Average test scores improved from 5.2 (pretest) to 7.8 (posttest), with p-values < 0.0001. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of students correctly identified hypotheses that were not falsifiable or lacked variables, and 89% of students improved their scores on questions concerning safe cosmetic use. Ninety-one percent (91%) of students demonstrated increased knowledge of microbial concepts and methods. Based on our results, this lab is an easy, yet effective, way to enhance knowledge of scientific concepts for nonmajors, while maintaining relevance to everyday life.

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Figures

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FIG. 1

Bacterial contamination of cosmetic products. Students dry-streaked cosmetic samples on nutrient agar and cultured them for 48 hrs. Plates are representative of student data: (A) mascara, (B) lip gloss, and (C) deodorant. Lip gloss and deodorant are the products that are most consistently contaminated.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2011 vol. 12 no. 2 166-175. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v12i2.320
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Image of FIG. 2

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FIG. 2

Growth on selective media. Students serially diluted used lip gloss to a 10% dilution (row 1), 1% dilution (row 2), and 0.1% dilution (row 3) in Tween-Peptone and cultured them for 48 hrs on selective media as follows: NA plates (A, E, I), MSA (B, F, J), SDA (C, G, K), and EMB (D, H). Colonies consistently decreased in number with serial dilutions.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2011 vol. 12 no. 2 166-175. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v12i2.320
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