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An Inquiry-Based Laboratory Module to Promote Understanding of the Scientific Method and Bacterial Conjugation

    Authors: Melanie B. Berkmen1,*, Anastasia C. Murthy1, Matthew P. Broulidakis1
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Suffolk University, Boston, MA 02114
    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 Chemistry and Biochemistry, Suffolk University, 41 Temple Street, Boston, MA 02114. Phone: 617-921-0654. Fax: 617-573-8668. E-mail: mberkmen@suffolk.edu.
    • ©2014 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2014 vol. 15 no. 2 321-322. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v15i2.763
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    Abstract:

    Students are engaged and improve their critical thinking skills in laboratory courses when they have the opportunity to design and conduct inquiry-based experiments that generate novel results. A discovery-driven project for a microbiology, genetics, or multidisciplinary research laboratory course was developed to familiarize students with the scientific method. In this multi-lab module, students determine whether their chosen stress conditions induce conjugation and/or cell death of the model BSL-1 Gram-positive bacterium Through consultation of the primary literature, students identify conditions or chemicals that can elicit DNA damage, the SOS response, and/or cellular stress. In groups, students discuss their selected conditions, develop their hypotheses and experimental plans, and formulate their positive and negative controls. Students then subject the B. subtilis donor cells to the stress conditions, mix donors with recipients to allow mating, and plate serial dilutions of the mixtures on selective plates to measure how the treatments affect conjugation frequency and donor cell viability. Finally, students analyze and discuss their collective data in light of their controls. The goals of this module are to encourage students to be actively involved in the scientific process while contributing to our understanding of the conditions that stimulate horizontal gene transfer in bacteria.

Key Concept Ranking

DNA Damage
0.50381637
Horizontal Gene Transfer
0.48755655
SOS Response
0.451545
General Stress Response
0.41900456
Bacillus subtilis
0.37925023
0.50381637

References & Citations

1. Auchtung JM, Lee CA, Monson RE, Lehman AP, Grossman AD 2005 Regulation of a Bacillus subtilis mobile genetic element by intercellular signaling and the global DNA damage response Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 102 12554 12559 10.1073/pnas.0505835102 16105942 1194945 http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0505835102
2. Burlage RS 1998 Molecular techniques 307 308 Burlage RS, Atlas R, Stahl D, Geesey G, Sayler G Techniques in microbial ecology Oxford University Press New York, NY
3. Seier-Petersen MA, et al 2014 Effect of subinhibitory concentrations of four commonly used biocides on the conjugative transfer of Tn916 in Bacillus subtilis J. Antimicrob. Chemother 69 343 348 10.1093/jac/dkt370 3886932 http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jac/dkt370
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2014-12-15
2017-11-25

Abstract:

Students are engaged and improve their critical thinking skills in laboratory courses when they have the opportunity to design and conduct inquiry-based experiments that generate novel results. A discovery-driven project for a microbiology, genetics, or multidisciplinary research laboratory course was developed to familiarize students with the scientific method. In this multi-lab module, students determine whether their chosen stress conditions induce conjugation and/or cell death of the model BSL-1 Gram-positive bacterium Through consultation of the primary literature, students identify conditions or chemicals that can elicit DNA damage, the SOS response, and/or cellular stress. In groups, students discuss their selected conditions, develop their hypotheses and experimental plans, and formulate their positive and negative controls. Students then subject the B. subtilis donor cells to the stress conditions, mix donors with recipients to allow mating, and plate serial dilutions of the mixtures on selective plates to measure how the treatments affect conjugation frequency and donor cell viability. Finally, students analyze and discuss their collective data in light of their controls. The goals of this module are to encourage students to be actively involved in the scientific process while contributing to our understanding of the conditions that stimulate horizontal gene transfer in bacteria.

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Figures

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FIGURE 1.

UV light induces mating and cell death of . Representative class data for % mating and donor cell viability after exposure to UV radiation for varying amounts of time. The experiment was performed as outlined in the Appendices .

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2014 vol. 15 no. 2 321-322. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v15i2.763
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