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Genome Analysis of SARS-CoV-2 Case Study: An Undergraduate Online Learning Activity To Introduce Bioinformatics, BLAST, and the Power of Genome Databases

    Author: J. Jordan Steel1
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    Affiliations: 1: U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO 80840
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. March 2021 vol. 22 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v22i1.2245
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    Abstract:

    The COVID19 pandemic has significantly impacted scientific research and higher education. With the chaos, confusion, and concern caused by the SARSCoV2/COVID19 pandemic, there are lots of questions and general curiosity about coronaviruses and infectious disease. This global health crisis provides an optimal platform for teaching and discussing scientific research. COVID19-specific learning activities can help guide students and the public to accurately find scientific answers to their questions and help educate and teach true scientific principles to those eagerly wanting answers about COVID19. A SARSCoV2/COVID19 case study has been developed that allows students to align the genomes of 4 different coronaviruses to identify potential origins of the virus. Additional questions direct students to think critically about how an RNA viral genome may have different implications than a DNA viral genome, or why mutations in the surface glycoprotein may have big impacts on viral transmission and immunity. This case study was developed and implemented in Spring 2020 and was well received by students. It provides an introduction to genomics and bioinformatics through a highly relevant and applicable topic that everyone is interested in: COVID19.

References & Citations

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2021-03-15
2021-05-14

Abstract:

The COVID19 pandemic has significantly impacted scientific research and higher education. With the chaos, confusion, and concern caused by the SARSCoV2/COVID19 pandemic, there are lots of questions and general curiosity about coronaviruses and infectious disease. This global health crisis provides an optimal platform for teaching and discussing scientific research. COVID19-specific learning activities can help guide students and the public to accurately find scientific answers to their questions and help educate and teach true scientific principles to those eagerly wanting answers about COVID19. A SARSCoV2/COVID19 case study has been developed that allows students to align the genomes of 4 different coronaviruses to identify potential origins of the virus. Additional questions direct students to think critically about how an RNA viral genome may have different implications than a DNA viral genome, or why mutations in the surface glycoprotein may have big impacts on viral transmission and immunity. This case study was developed and implemented in Spring 2020 and was well received by students. It provides an introduction to genomics and bioinformatics through a highly relevant and applicable topic that everyone is interested in: COVID19.

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FIGURE 1

Analysis of student involvement in COVID-19 Case Study. A) The total number of e-mail inquiries sent to the professor regarding the assigned case study (<0.05). B) The average amount of time (minutes) spent on each case study. Data determined through email analysis, blackboard analytics, and student feedback (<0.005). Spring 2020 enrollment was 49 students.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. March 2021 vol. 22 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v22i1.2245
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