Fish Evolution

Overview & Concepts

What connections exist between proteins and genes and figuring out evolutionary relationships? Students will use SDS-PAGE to analyze different fish proteins. Analysis of proteins will be used to predict evolutionary relationships among different fish.   

Grade Level: 

Concepts Covered: 

Evolutionary Biology, genetics, gene sequencing, evolution, phylogenic trees 

Prior Knowledge Required: 

Worksheet provided with background information. 

Activity Notes

Days to Teach: 

2 Days


  • Vertical dual PAGE chamber
  • Power supplies
  • WARD's Genetic Distance Lab kit 36 V 5333 or Protein Profilier Kit (Bio-Rad #166-2700EDU).
  • Five different fish samples
  • Lab handout (see attached files)

Teaching Tips / Activity Overview: 

  1. Introduce "Finding Nemo's Relatives" Lab and give brief instructions.
  2. Students should work with a partner. Send students back to lab tables to begin lab. Assist students as needed during lab.
    1. Prelab: In the pre-lab computer activity, students can use an Internet database ( that contains information on the biology of most of the world’s fish species. This exercise is intended to focus the students’ thoughts onto what factors may cause similarities in  muscle protein profiles, to become familiar with the fish that they will be investigating, and finally to make predictions about the results of their electrophoresis experiment.
    2. Protein Extraction
    3. Electrophoresis
  3. Assign reading about using SDS-PAGE.
  4. Assign questions in lab for homework.

Tip: When purchasing fish, keep in mind that you only need less than a gram of each sample. At the fresh fish counter at your grocery store, you can probably get small samples for minimal or no charge. Frozen fish works just as well as fresh. Be sure to keep track of which fish is which!


Evaluate student answers to lab questions.


  • Vertical dual PAGE chamber
  • Power supplies
  • WARD's Genetic Distance Lab kit 36 V 5333
  • Five different fish samples


Tara Flick produced these teacher notes and resources. Additional information from Richard Riter was added. 

Academic Standards
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