Genetics: Nature or Nurture? Day 3
Who thinks they can taste PTC (a bitter compound for some, but a tasteless compound for others)?! Today we used tasting papers to determine if we could taste PTC, then analyzed the results of our gel electrophoresis (from yesterday) to see if our own DNA matches our ability to taste the chemical PTC or not. We also started a new experiment – bacterial transformation – whereby normal E. coli cells are given a new gene – the gene for Green Fluorescent Protein (GFG).
Ask your camper: What are some actual applications of genetic transformation using bacterial cells? (allows researchers and medical professionals to add human genes to bacteria for mass production of proteins such as hormones like insulin and growth hormone)
In our other section, campers continued explorations with the mutant C. elegans worms. The “mutant” worms lack a receptor (due to their mutation) needed for their ability to detect salt in their environment – this is problematic for them because they aren’t able to recognize that a salty environment can be harmful and therefore, they don’t attempt to find a safer environment. Statistical analyses were performed using the data collected by the campers, which helped the campers determine if the behavior of the mutant worms was significantly different in each environment. Perhaps they can evaluate some normal worms later this week and do even more comparisons!
Ask your camper: Why is a salty environment bad for the mutant worms? (the salt can disrupt their water balance, or osmoregularity)