20.109(S13):Module 1

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20.109(S13): Laboratory Fundamentals of Biological Engineering

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Module 1

Instructors: Shannon Hughes-Alford, Jonathan Runstadler, and Agi Stachowiak


S13 notes: Brand-new module! No precedent. Sometime before February it will all be laid out in writing. For now, I'll sketch out a few highlights.

In this module, you'll complete two mini-investigations while gaining foundational skills -- in laboratory techniques, data analysis, and both written and oral communication -- that will serve you well in the remaining two modules. You'll study two different types of pathogens that can infect birds: bacteria and fungus. As a class, you will perform a phylogenetic analysis of the bacteria found in two distinct bird populations and look for trends. [Framing of broader purpose?] As individuals, you will design and test primers for diagnosing infection with the fungus microsporidia. It has been previously found that microsporidia infections are common in several bird populations that have contact with humans -- aquatic birds that may visit reservoirs or beaches, pets such as parrots and lovebirds, and pests such as pigeons -- and it is speculated that zoonotic transfer may occur. Although most people can rapidly clear such an infection, immunocompromised people such as children, the elderly, and HIV-infected individuals are at risk for serious complications. Improving the sensitivity and/or specificity of avian microsporidia diagnosis could thus be useful in environmental testing and subsequent health care recommendations.

We thank the Runstadler lab for access to bird samples (pre-screened for flu and everything!), and especially Wendy Puryear for helpful technical discussions as this module was developed.

Module 1 Day 1: X
Module 1 Day 2: DNA extraction
Module 1 Day 3: PCR and paper discussion

Note: 1 week between day 3 and day 4.

Module 1 Day 4: DNA cloning
Module 1 Day 5: DNA sequencing and primer analysis
Module 1 Day 6: Journal club I
Module 1 Day 7: Phylogenetic analysis
Module 1 Day 8: Journal club II

Laboratory Report
Primer design summary

TA notes, mod 1
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