Year 12 Biology Visit Melbourne University

Year 12 Biology Visit Melbourne University

Our Year 12 Biology students had the opportunity to participate in an excursion to the Gene Technology Access Centre (GTAC) in the University of Melbourne. This excursion was specially organised by GTAC as part of a major Unit 4 Biology SAC (School Assessed Coursework) component on DNA Manipulation Tools and Techniques (Unit 4 Outcome 2).

Together with Year 12 students from five other schools, our students were immersed in an interesting journey into the genetics world of processing and transforming native Escherichia coli (E. Coli) bacteria into green fluorescing transgenic bacteria with genes from jellyfish (Green Fluorescent Protein or GFP gene). The program started off with a mini lecture on genetics, the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) structure and how a DNA molecule can be manipulated to include foreign genes.

Every student took turns to hands-on at splicing the bacterial DNA with endonucleases, inserting foreign gene using molecular vehicles called plasmids and gluing both bacterial and foreign genes together with a genetic glue called the DNA ligase.  The procedure enabled otherwise normal looking E. Coli bacteria that are found in the microflora of our intestines to glow fluorescent green like a jellyfish! (The genes were taken from a type of jellyfish that made them glow green in dark). The program also provided our students with the opportunity to perform gel electrophoresis on their transformed bacteria to determine fragment lengths of their recombinant DNA plasmids in the bacteria.

The program ended with our students taking their newly made transgenic bacteria back to school for further analysis to complete their SAC report. It was a valuable experience for our biology students going to GTAC and it’s definitely worth doing it again next year!