Students work on a DNA extraction lab inside the mobile science lab
On Monday, October 17 and Tuesday, October 18, all Hill School students enrolled in Biology I and Biology II participated in a DNA extraction lab in a mobile science lab provided by the J. Craig Venter Institute Discover Genomics! Mobile Laboratory. The lab was arranged by Mr. Ted Danforth '44, who is on the Institute's Board of Trustees.
Throughout the two day lab, students worked to extract the DNA from plant samples that were collected throughout the campus and then worked to sequence the DNA as part of the DNA Barcoding process. The J.C.V.I. identifies DNA Barcoding as a four-part sequence: DNA Extraction; Polymerase Chain Reaction; Sequencing; and Data Analysis. In an increasingly globalized world, DNA Barcoding can be used to identify the region of origin for a species.
Students were presented with the following scenario: "International travel has become easier over the past century. While there are many positive benefits such as economic growth and cultural education, there are also negative impacts, such as the spread of disease or the introduction of invasive species to local environments. With that, the Custom Departments of several countries limit the export and import of animals, food products and plants. Unfortunately, there are instances where Agents cannot distinguish between local variety of plants and foreign ones. Today, you are a Scientist working for U.S. Customs and your job is to use the DNA Barcoding process (DNA extraction, PCR, Sequencing, and Data Analysis) to identify ALL plants for passage, even if you have to assign identification. No unidentified plants will be allowed to pass through customs!"
Following the prompts of the J.C.V.I. scientists, students completed several steps within each phase of the DNA Barcoding sequence to identify their plant.