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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: [email protected].
    • ©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 After discussing unpublished research findings, cell biology students performed experiments demonstrating that: 1) fungi may promote fern growth via hormone production, 2) novel bacterial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

1. American Association for the Advancement of Science 2011 Vision and change in undergraduate biology education: a call to action. [Online.] http://visionandchange.org/finalreport/
3. Beck C, et al 2012 Add ecology to the pre-medical curriculum Science 335 1301 10.1126/science.335.6074.1301-a 22422958 http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.335.6074.1301-a
4. Ben-Jacob E, Levine H 2006 Self-engineering capabilities of bacteria J R Soc Interface 3 197 214 10.1098/rsif.2005.0089 16849231 1618491 http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2005.0089
5. Brandt LJ, Reddy SS 2012 Fecal microbiota transplantation for recurrent Clostridium difficile infection J. Clin. Gastroenterology 45 S159 S167 10.1097/MCG.0b013e318222e603 http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/MCG.0b013e318222e603
6. Chamany K, Allen D, Tanner K 2008 Making biology learning relevant to students: integrating people, history, and context into college biology teaching CBE Life Sci. Educ 7 267 278 10.1187/cbe.08-06-0029 18765745 2527976 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.08-06-0029
7. Chamovitz D 2012 What a plant smells 27 48 What a plant knows: a field guide to the senses Scientific American New York, NY
8. Contreras-Cornejo HA, Macias-Rodriguez L, Cortes-Penagos C, Lopez-Bucio J 2009 Trichoderma virens, a plant beneficial fungus, enhances biomass production and promotes lateral root growth through an auxin-dependent mechanism in Arabidopsis Plant Phys 149 1579 1592 10.1104/pp.108.130369 http://dx.doi.org/10.1104/pp.108.130369
9. Davies J 2006 Are antibiotics naturally antibiotics? J. Ind. Microbiol. Biotechnol 33 496 499 10.1007/s10295-006-0112-5 16552582 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10295-006-0112-5
10. Flärdh K, Buttner MJ 2009 Streptomyces morphogenetics: dissecting differentiation in a filamentous bacterium Nat. Rev 7 36 49
11. Hill JP, Germino MJ, Alongi DA 2011 Carbon-use efficiency in green sinks is increased when a blend of apoplastic fructose and glucose is available for uptake J. Exp. Bot 62 2013 2022 10.1093/jxb/erq407 21350040 3060692 http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jxb/erq407
12. Kharel MK, Shepherd MD, Nybo SE, Smith ML, Bosserman MA, Rohr J 2010 UNIT 10E4 Isolation of Streptomyces species from soil Curr Prot Micro John Wiley and Sons, Ltd 10.1002/9780471729259.mc10e04s19 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/9780471729259.mc10e04s19
13. Malakoff D September 28 2006 Devious dodder vine sniffs out its victims. National Public Radio [Online.] http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6160709
14. National Research Council 2009 Committee on a new biology for the 21 st century: ensuring the united states leads the coming biology revolution The National Academies Press Washington, DC
15. National Research Council 2003 BIO2010: Transforming undergraduate education for future research biologists The National Academies Press Washington, DC
16. Reid A, Greene SE 2012 How microbes can feed the world, a report from the American Academy of Microbiology American Academy of Microbiology Colloquium Washington, DC
17. Runyon JB, Mescher MC, De Moraes CM 2010 Parasitism by Cuscuta pentagona sequentially induces JA and SA pathways in tomato Plant Cell Env 33 290 303 10.1111/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 CMJ 2010 Plant immunity: it’s the hormones talking, but what do they say? Plant Phys 154 536 540 10.1104/pp.110.161570 http://dx.doi.org/10.1104/pp.110.161570
19. Weaver GC, Russell CB, Wink DJ 2008 Inquiry-based and research-based pedagogies in undergraduate science Nat Chem Biol 4 577 580 10.1038/nchembio1008-577 18800041 http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nchembio1008-577
20. World Health Organization 2005 Ecosystems and human well-being A report of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment WHO Press Geneva, Switzerland
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2014-12-15
2019-10-14

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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