Genetics Laboratory

Transforming Genetics Laboratory (MCDB 306) into an Inquiry Based Laboratory Course

The purpose of this project is to transform the experience of students in MCDB 306 (Genetics Laboratory). The first goal is to update the genetic approaches used. Currently, MCDB 306 focuses on recombination mapping of genes in prokaryotic and animal models. While intellectually challenging for the students, these lab exercises largely rely on classical markers that are no longer used in research laboratories. Our team has mapped out three projects, utilizing Drosophila, C. elegans and Bacillus subtilis, that will expose students to techniques currently being utilized in research labs, e.g., P-element transposons in flies, Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) reporters and RNAinterference (RNAi) in nematodes, and CRISPR/CAS genome editing in bacteria.

The second element of our proposed transformation is to structure the course so that students are participating in research projects that attempt to discover new things about two biological processes: Wnt signaling in flies and nematodes, and biofilm formation in B. subtilis. For example, students will characterize a collection of 60 P-element insertions identified in a screen for genes that regulate Wnt signaling and/or apoptosis (programmed cell death) in flies. These insertions (which regulate nearby genes) have not been mapped, so students can experience the excitement of being the first to learn the location of the insertions and identifying candidate genes. The C. elegans project takes advantage of an ordered library of bacteria expressing dsRNA directed against every annotated gene in C. elegans. Students can feed transgenic C. elegans different bacterial strains, which will deplete specific genes, and then visually examine the effect of this genetic manipulation on a GFP reporter that is activated by Wnt signaling. To study biofilm formation in bacteria, we will utilize CRISR/CAS reagents to specifically edit the genome of B. subtilis.

Project Team:

Kenneth Cadigan, Professor

Gyorgyi Csankovski, Associate Professor

Maria de la Paz Fernandez, Lecturer I

Lyle Simmons, Associate Professor

Diane Spillane, Lecturer III