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Enzymes in Action: An Interactive Activity Designed to Highlight Positive Attributes of Extracellular Enzymes Synthesized by Microbes

    Authors: Rachel M. C. Gillespie1, Nicola R. Stanley-Wall1,*
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    Affiliations: 1: Division of Molecular Microbiology, College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee, DD1 5EH, UK
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 15 December 2014
    • Supplemental materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Division of Molecular Microbiology, College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee DD1 5EH. Phone: +44(0)1382 385136. Fax: +44(0)1382 388216. E-mail: n.r.stanleywall@dundee.ac.uk.
    • ©2014 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2014 vol. 15 no. 2 310-312. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v15i2.737
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    Abstract:

    Microbial activities are widely exploited in the manufacture of valuable products. However, the many beneficial uses of microorganisms are often overshadowed by negative associations with disease and decay. This article describes an interactive activity aimed at school-aged children and members of the public, which introduces the concept of microbial enzymes and ultimately illustrates how the industrial uses of microbes have a positive impact on everyday life. Participants are guided through a simple chemical assay which allows them to use a hands-on approach to reveal bacterial enzymes at work. This activity is safe and economical to run and is suitable for use in both the classroom and external learning environments. Also included are supplemental educational resources to support the demonstration and suggestions for extensions to the activity described, which enable further exploration of the topic. This activity has been tested by more than 2000 people at public engagement events and has received much positive feedback.

Key Concept Ranking

Lugol's Iodine
0.46180558
Bacillus subtilis
0.3796296
0.46180558

References & Citations

1. House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology 2000 Science and technology—third report. Session 1999–2000 House of Lords Science and Technology Committee London, UK
2. Madigan MT, Martinko JM, Stahl D, Clark DP 2012 Commercial products and biotechnology Espinoza D, et al Brock biology of microorganisms 13th ed Pearson Education Inc. San Francisco, CA
3. Ofsted 2011 Successful science: an evaluation of science education in England 2007–2010 The Office for Standards in Education document number 100034 Children’s Services and Skills Manchester, UK
4. Stanley-Wall NR 2010 Magnificent microbes Microbiol Today 37 192 193
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v15i2.737
2014-12-15
2017-11-22

Abstract:

Microbial activities are widely exploited in the manufacture of valuable products. However, the many beneficial uses of microorganisms are often overshadowed by negative associations with disease and decay. This article describes an interactive activity aimed at school-aged children and members of the public, which introduces the concept of microbial enzymes and ultimately illustrates how the industrial uses of microbes have a positive impact on everyday life. Participants are guided through a simple chemical assay which allows them to use a hands-on approach to reveal bacterial enzymes at work. This activity is safe and economical to run and is suitable for use in both the classroom and external learning environments. Also included are supplemental educational resources to support the demonstration and suggestions for extensions to the activity described, which enable further exploration of the topic. This activity has been tested by more than 2000 people at public engagement events and has received much positive feedback.

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Figures

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FIGURE 1.

(A) Schematic of starch digestion by amylase enzymes. Each blue hexagon represents a glucose molecule. (B) A plate of LB + 1% (w/v) starch agar with streaked and incubated at 30°C for 48 hours before staining with Lugol’s solution; yellow-brown rings around the bacterial growth highlight an absence of starch.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2014 vol. 15 no. 2 310-312. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v15i2.737
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