Genetically Modified: What exactly are we talking about?
This unit introduces students to the process of genetic engineering, detection of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food supply, and the ethics surrounding the ongoing debate of the use of this technology. This unit also serves to reinforce lab techniques such as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), gel electrophoresis and staining.
Students isolate DNA from food samples or fresh plant tissue. Using PCR, they amplify RuBisCo, an internal control for successful DNA isolation, and the 35S promoter element. The 35S promoter is very common in many of the genetically engineered plants grown today. Students determine the presence or absence of the GMOs in their food samples and compare their results to the list of previously tested products. It is recommended this lab follows after the Wolbachia PCR lab.
Intermediate to Advanced: Many topics from health, ethics, nutrition, environment and biotechnology can be covered with this lesson. It is appropriate for biology, health, environmental science and biotechnology courses. This can also be a citizen science project.
GMO PCR Student Laboratory Guide
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