Immersing undergraduate students in the research experience: A practical laboratory module on molecular cloning of microbial genes

Wang, Jack T.H., Schembri, Mark A., Ramakrishna, Mathitha, Sagulenko, Evgeny and Fuerst, John A. (2012) Immersing undergraduate students in the research experience: A practical laboratory module on molecular cloning of microbial genes. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 40 1: 37-45. doi:10.1002/bmb.20572


Author Wang, Jack T.H.
Schembri, Mark A.
Ramakrishna, Mathitha
Sagulenko, Evgeny
Fuerst, John A.
Title Immersing undergraduate students in the research experience: A practical laboratory module on molecular cloning of microbial genes
Journal name Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1470-8175
1539-3429
Publication date 2012-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1002/bmb.20572
Volume 40
Issue 1
Start page 37
End page 45
Total pages 9
Place of publication Hoboken, NJ, United States
Publisher John Wiley & Sons
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Abstract Molecular cloning skills are an essential component of biological research, yet students often do not receive this training during their undergraduate studies. This can be attributed to the complexities of the cloning process, which may require many weeks of progressive design and experimentation. To address this issue, we incorporated an immersive 12-week undergraduate research experience into an upper-level molecular microbiology course. Students completed two 6-week modules where the entire molecular cloning process was carried out for two sets of novel genes implicated in distinct biological processes, microbial cell division and bacterial pathogenesis. The first module trained students in molecular cloning experimental skills, and the second facilitated the application of these skills within a new biological context. Students designed and optimized primers targeted against specific genes, andthen PCR amplified, purified, and quantified the DNA of their gene of interest. Using a variety of strategies, students inserted these genes into expression plasmids to produce GFP and His-tag fusion proteins; this was tested through restriction digestion or colony PCR and verified by gel electrophoresis. At the end of each module, students were assessed on comprehension of biological concepts, professional laboratory note-keeping and scientific communication, and proficiencies in experimental procedures. The recombinant plasmids produced by the students directly contributed to ongoing research projects, and the molecular cloning skills learnt are applicable to many career and study options in molecular biology. Overall, this research experience trained students in professional molecular biology and microbiology practice and engages them in producing real-world research outcomes.
Keyword Active learning
Inquiry based teaching
Laboratory exercises
Molecular biology
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Special Section: Innovative Laboratory Exercises – Focus on Australia

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences
 
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Created: Fri, 03 Feb 2012, 20:01:21 EST by Mr Jack Wang on behalf of School of Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences