We report a thematic sequence of directed inquiry-based labs taking students from bacterial mutagenesis and phenotypic identification of their own self-created mutant, through identification of mutated genes by biochemical testing, to verification of mutant alleles by complementation, and finally to mutant allele characterization by DNA sequence analysis. The lab utilizes UV mutagenesis with wild-type Escherichia coli and a UV-sensitive isogenic derivative optimized for undergraduate use. The labs take advantage of the simplicity of E. coli in a realistic genetic investigation using safe UV irradiation methods for creation and characterization of novel mutants. Assessment data collected over three offerings of the course suggest that the labs, which combine original investigation in a scientifically realistic intellectual environment with learned techniques and concepts, were instrumental in improving students’ learning in a number of areas. These include the development of critical thinking skills and understanding of concepts and methods. Student responses also suggest the labs were helpful in improving students’understanding of the scientific process as a rational series of experimental investigations and awareness of the interdisciplinary nature of scientific inquiry.
Genetics Society of America
Healy, F.G., & Livingstone, K.D. (2010). Using student-generated UV-induced Escherichia coli mutants in a directed inquiry undergraduate genetics laboratory. Genetics, 186(1), 33-39. doi:10.1534/genetics.110.120147