From DNA to Organism: A Study in DNA Function for the High School Biology Classroom

Module 3: Manipulating genes

Lab letter

Dear Biology Students,
         Thank you for your help with my problems. I need your help with another problem in my lab. I need to figure out how to make a transgenic organism. A transgenic organism is one with DNA from at least two different organisms in its genome. Transgenic organisms are currently used in the food crops that you eat.   Scientists put insect and disease resistant genes from a plant and put them into plants that farmers grow for food, making the plants survive better and saving the farmer money on chemical pesticides. Transgenic organisms are also used in research to examine the functions of individual genes. The gene in question is put into a simple organism like bacteria or yeast and the organism is allowed to reproduce with the gene in it. Once the organism has reproduced with the gene in it, you can get copies of the gene back, experiment with the function of the gene, or extract and purify the protein that the gene codes for. It would be nice to be able to put my AKT-1 gene into a simple organism and let it reproduce. I might be able to experiment with the function of my gene like that!   The problem is that I am not sure how to make a transgenic organism.

         I found a kit on the Internet that puts a gene into bacteria that will make them glow in the dark. It sounded like a cool experiment and should be a method that I can use to get my gene into another organism. I enclosed a photocopy of the directions from the kit and the materials that you will need to carry out the procedure. What I need you to do is use the kit to create the transgenic bacterial cells following the instructions in the kit and then report back to me about how to do it. I will need a letter back that describes the steps that you did, why you did them, and how your results worked out. I am especially curious about how you know if the cells that grow have your gene or not. I don’t even know what my gene does forget about what it might look like. How could I solve that problem? Good luck with the kit and let me know how it goes!


Dr. Berkowitz