Alu PCR Lab Introduction
In this lesson, students are introduced to PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) as a means of exploring the role of transposons (“jumping genes”) in genetic variation in populations. Students will identify their own genotype for Alu PV92 – a 300 base pair repeat found on chromosome 16, as well as gather information about the discovery of transposons in maize by Barbara McClintock and model the possible effects transposons can have on organisms. Read More
In the lab portion, students extract DNA from their own cheek cells and amplify the Alu repeat using PCR. After visualizing their results using gel electrophoresis, students determine the genotype frequency in their class. They use this data as well as information learned in the lesson leading up to the lab to construct an explanation for how transposons affect genetic variation.
This lab provides a great opportunity for students to use important skills of molecular biology (micropipetting, electrophoresis, PCR) to explain a pattern found in nature – science in action!
Lesson Resources Student Guide – Download and edit student worksheets to be completed during the Alu PCR Lab. Lesson Slides – Articulates with the student guide above and accompanying lesson plans below. Lesson Plan – Suggested times for pacing, sequence and activities for the lab. Includes vocabulary tool, background information, etc.