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Hormones and Antibiotics in Nature: A Laboratory Module Designed to Broaden Undergraduate Perspectives on Typically Human-Centered Topics

    Author: Carolyn F. Weber1
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID 83209
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 15 December 2014
    • Supplemental materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Department of Biological Sciences, Idaho State University, 921 S. 8th Ave, stop 8007, Pocatello, ID 83209. Phone: 208-282-2149. Fax: 208-282-4570. E-mail: webecaro@isu.edu.
    • ©2014 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2014 vol. 15 no. 2 277-286. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v15i2.734
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    Abstract:

    Bringing discovery-based research into undergraduate laboratory courses increases student motivation and learning gains over traditional exercises that merely teach technique or demonstrate well-documented phenomena. Laboratory experiences are further enhanced when they are designed to challenge student perspectives on topics relevant to their lives. To this end, a laboratory module on antibiotics and hormones, which are generally discussed in the context of human health, was developed for students to explore the multifaceted roles of antibiotics and hormones in nature (e.g. interspecies communication) via reading primary scientific literature and performing discovery-based experiments. The main objective of this module was to increase the general biological literacy of students as determined by their ability to connect the Five Core Concepts of Biological Literacy (American Association for the Advancement of Science, Vision and Change in Undergraduate Education: A Call to Action, 2011) to the topics “hormones” and “antibiotics” in pre- and postmodule surveys. After discussing unpublished research findings, cell biology students performed experiments demonstrating that: 1) fungi may promote fern growth via hormone production, 2) novel bacterial isolates in the genus produce antifungal compounds, and 3) subinhibitory antibiotic concentrations may enhance soil bacterial growth. The third finding provided evidence supporting a hypothesis framed in a scientific article that students read and discussed. Student perspectives on premodule surveys focused on roles of hormones and antibiotics in the human body (e.g. development, fighting infection), but their broadened postmodule perspectives encompassed the roles of these molecules in organismal communication and possibly the evolution of multicellularity.

Key Concept Ranking

Bacterial Cell Wall
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References & Citations

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4. Ben-Jacob E, Levine H2006Self-engineering capabilities of bacteriaJ R Soc Interface319721410.1098/rsif.2005.0089168492311618491 http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2005.0089
5. Brandt LJ, Reddy SS2012Fecal microbiota transplantation for recurrent Clostridium difficile infectionJ. Clin. Gastroenterology45S159S16710.1097/MCG.0b013e318222e603 http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/MCG.0b013e318222e603
6. Chamany K, Allen D, Tanner K2008Making biology learning relevant to students: integrating people, history, and context into college biology teachingCBE Life Sci. Educ726727810.1187/cbe.08-06-0029187657452527976 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.08-06-0029
7. Chamovitz D2012What a plant smells2748What a plant knows: a field guide to the sensesScientific AmericanNew York, NY
8. Contreras-Cornejo HA, Macias-Rodriguez L, Cortes-Penagos C, Lopez-Bucio J2009Trichoderma virens, a plant beneficial fungus, enhances biomass production and promotes lateral root growth through an auxin-dependent mechanism in ArabidopsisPlant Phys1491579159210.1104/pp.108.130369 http://dx.doi.org/10.1104/pp.108.130369
9. Davies J2006Are antibiotics naturally antibiotics?J. Ind. Microbiol. Biotechnol3349649910.1007/s10295-006-0112-516552582 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10295-006-0112-5
10. Flärdh K, Buttner MJ2009Streptomyces morphogenetics: dissecting differentiation in a filamentous bacteriumNat. Rev73649
11. Hill JP, Germino MJ, Alongi DA2011Carbon-use efficiency in green sinks is increased when a blend of apoplastic fructose and glucose is available for uptakeJ. Exp. Bot622013202210.1093/jxb/erq407213500403060692 http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jxb/erq407
12. Kharel MK, Shepherd MD, Nybo SE, Smith ML, Bosserman MA, Rohr J2010UNIT 10E4 Isolation of Streptomyces species from soilCurr Prot MicroJohn Wiley and Sons, Ltd10.1002/9780471729259.mc10e04s19 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/9780471729259.mc10e04s19
13. Malakoff DSeptember282006Devious dodder vine sniffs out its victims. National Public Radio [Online.]http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6160709
14. National Research Council2009Committee on a new biology for the 21st century: ensuring the united states leads the coming biology revolutionThe National Academies PressWashington, DC
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16. Reid A, Greene SE2012How microbes can feed the world, a report from the American Academy of Microbiology American Academy of Microbiology ColloquiumWashington, DC
17. Runyon JB, Mescher MC, De Moraes CM2010Parasitism by Cuscuta pentagona sequentially induces JA and SA pathways in tomatoPlant Cell Env3329030310.1111/j.1365-3040.2009.02082.x http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-3040.2009.02082.x
18. Verhage A, van Wees SCM, Pieterse CMJ2010Plant immunity: it’s the hormones talking, but what do they say?Plant Phys15453654010.1104/pp.110.161570 http://dx.doi.org/10.1104/pp.110.161570
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2014-12-15
2017-09-20

Abstract:

Bringing discovery-based research into undergraduate laboratory courses increases student motivation and learning gains over traditional exercises that merely teach technique or demonstrate well-documented phenomena. Laboratory experiences are further enhanced when they are designed to challenge student perspectives on topics relevant to their lives. To this end, a laboratory module on antibiotics and hormones, which are generally discussed in the context of human health, was developed for students to explore the multifaceted roles of antibiotics and hormones in nature (e.g. interspecies communication) via reading primary scientific literature and performing discovery-based experiments. The main objective of this module was to increase the general biological literacy of students as determined by their ability to connect the Five Core Concepts of Biological Literacy (American Association for the Advancement of Science, Vision and Change in Undergraduate Education: A Call to Action, 2011) to the topics “hormones” and “antibiotics” in pre- and postmodule surveys. After discussing unpublished research findings, cell biology students performed experiments demonstrating that: 1) fungi may promote fern growth via hormone production, 2) novel bacterial isolates in the genus produce antifungal compounds, and 3) subinhibitory antibiotic concentrations may enhance soil bacterial growth. The third finding provided evidence supporting a hypothesis framed in a scientific article that students read and discussed. Student perspectives on premodule surveys focused on roles of hormones and antibiotics in the human body (e.g. development, fighting infection), but their broadened postmodule perspectives encompassed the roles of these molecules in organismal communication and possibly the evolution of multicellularity.

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Figures

Image of FIGURE 1.

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FIGURE 1.

that germinated from spores on a) BSM agar medium, b) polycarbonate membrane on top of BSM agar medium, and c) polycarbonate membrane on top of fungi ( sp. BR) cultured on BSM agar medium. All images taken with a LeicaEZ4D at the same magnification, three weeks after sowing spores under constant light.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2014 vol. 15 no. 2 277-286. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v15i2.734
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Image of FIGURE 2.

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FIGURE 2.

Numbers of bacterial colonies per plate as a function of antibiotic type and concentration from laboratory section 2. Where bars are absent, the number of colonies was zero.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2014 vol. 15 no. 2 277-286. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v15i2.734
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Image of FIGURE 3.

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FIGURE 3.

Fungal inhibition assays on King’s B agar medium with novel bacterial isolates in the genus that were collected from outdoor air. After seven days of incubation at room temperature, bacteria in assays displayed in (a) and (b) did not inhibit fungal growth. Bacteria in assays displayed in (d), (e), and (f) inhibited fungal growth relative to the fungi only control (c).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2014 vol. 15 no. 2 277-286. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v15i2.734
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