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ASM Microbiology Education Journal, 2002      Bacterial Diversity Studies Using the 16S rRNA Gene Provide a Powerful Research-Based Curriculum for Molecular Biology Laboratory
Sarah M. Boomer, Daniel P. Lodge, and Bryan E. Dutton
ASM Microbiology Education Journal, 2002

We have developed a ten-week curriculum for molecular biology that uses 16S ribosomal RNA genes to characterize and compare novel bacteria from hot spring communities in Yellowstone National Park. The 16S rRNA approach bypasses selective culture-based methods. Our molecular biology course offered the opportunity for students to learn broadly applicable methods while contributing to a long-term research project. Specifically, students isolated and characterized clones that contained novel 16S rRNA inserts using restriction enzyme, DNA sequencing, and computer-based phylogenetic methods. In both classes, students retrieved novel bacterial 16S rRNA genes, several of which were most similar to Green Nonsulfur bacterial isolates. During class, we evaluated student performance and mastery of skills and concepts using quizzes, formal lab notebooks, and a broad project assignment. For this report, we also assessed student performance alongside data quality and discussed the significance, our goal being to improve both research and teaching methods.

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