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Outreach Activities

Introduction to Molecular Biology, Genetics, and Bioinformatics Workshop

Genotypic variation on our dinner plate!

Virtual Workshop for Grade 12 students

Presented in collaboration with the McMaster University Department of Biology

Description of Activity

Not all biological research is carried out on a lab bench or at a field site. In this workshop we will use a number of freely available online databases to explore the biochemistry, genetics, and molecular biology of a food item we are likely all familiar with: sweet corn. Students will be led through protein-related data that characterize the enzymes involved in regulating the sucrose and starch content of corn kernels. To understand the biology behind sweet corn, we will focus on one enzyme and the gene encoding this enzyme in order to learn how plants have naturally changed to produce a delectable alternative to field corn.  We will use a variety of online tools and websites (eg. KEGG and NCBI) to first compare the gene and protein structure of this key enzyme in corn and then extend this survey to other plants and bacteria. While this workshop focuses on one enzyme and its associated gene, the tools and the websites we will use can be broadly applied to study other genes in different organisms.

This guided workshop can take about two hours to complete. Student access to the internet is required. Teachers can contact Dr. Elizabeth Weretilnyk for additional information and workshop availability.