In order to better understand DNA fingerprinting and its real world applications, students will use a real genomic site, DNA Surveillance, based in New Zealand, to test whale samples against a standard database. This is done to monitor the sale of protected whale species in Japanese fish markets. Read more about DNA Surveillance Unit: Is That an Endangered Whale You’re Eating?
Organisms and Evolution
How are genomic changes associated with patterns of host specificity, virulence, and speciation as disease-causing organisms evolve? Does disease exposure vary geographically in birds? How can we identify the bird pathogens? What are the factors controlling the reproductive success of invasive weeds? To answer such questions, researchers turn to bioinformatics and use a variety of experiments, both in the field and in the lab, combined with genomic, mathematical, and GIS-based tools.
This lesson is the 1st in a unit on constructing Phylogenetic Trees from DNA or Protein Sequences. Students build an Excel spreadsheet to model the simplest implementation of the LCS (Longest Common Subsequence) algorithm in order to calculate the degree of homology between 2 sequences. Read more about Phylogenetic Trees, Part 1: Pairwise Alignment of Related DNA / Protein Sequences using the LCS Algorithm
This is a follow-up activity after students have sequenced their mtDNA in a previous lab (see "mtDNA Amplification and Comparison" in the Bioinformatics Activity Bank website). Read more about Construction of a Phylogenetic Tree of Modern Humans
Astrobiologists are interested in the salt-loving Archaen, Halobacterium sp. Read more about Could Extraterrestrial Life Look Like An Extremophile?
This series of lessons is designed to introduce students to PCR - its function and the process. Read more about mtDNA Amplification and Comparison
This activity is meant to be a self-guided explanation of the endosymbiotic theory with emphasis on mtDNA. It is linked to an assignment where students will BLAST a mtDNA sequence to solve a problem of identity. Read more about Endosymbiotic Theory and mtDNA
Bacteria are prokaryotic organisms that can be found almost anywhere on earth. Identifying prokaryotic species can be difficult in a high school lab. The purpose of this lab it to use information that is known about bacteria cell wall composition, size, shape, arrangements, enzymatic activity, colony growth, and molecular data (DNA) to identify species (or group of prokaryotes) of known and Read more about Inquiry Lab: Identifying Bacteria using Morphology, Physiology, and Molecular Data
In this activity students will used macromolecular data to construct a cladogram of 7 primate species and 1 non-primate species. This will convey to students the idea that monophyleticism in both the recent and the more distant past can be inferred from macromolecular data. Students will compare and analyze amino acid sequences using NCBI’s BLAST tool. Read more about Molecular Sequences & Primate Evolution: An Amino Acid Example
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. Read more about Fish Evolution
How can gene sequences be analyzed in order to show similarities and phylogenic relationships? Students use NCBI to look up gene sequences for several mammals. They then draw phylogenic trees and analyze the data about relationships between organisms. Read more about Bear Evolution