Wow! Team AP Bio sure has been learning a lot! Where to start?

Well, recently we did a little something called the pGLO Lab. In this lab, we used pGLO plasmids, which are small circular rings of bacterial DNA, to transform E. coli. After adding the plasmids to the E. coli, we followed a series of steps that selected for transformed bacteria and then made that bacteria glow! Only 1 in 1,000,000 bacteria will successfully transform and take up the pGLO plasmids, so to select for the transformed bacteria, we added ampicillin (an antibiotic) to an agar plate. pGLO plasmids contain the bla gene, which codes for proteins that inhibit ampicillin. This meant that only E. coli that had taken up the pGLO plasmids could continue to reproduce (and therefore be visible) on the plates with ampicillin. Next, we activated the gfp gene that is in the pGLO plasmids. The gfp gene codes for Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP), which converts ultraviolet light into green fluorescent light. We used arabinose to turn on the gfp gene and make the E. coli glow! In this lab we learned about plasmids, transformation, bacteria, lab techniques, and so much more!

Next, we did research projects and presentations about viruses! This was so fascinating to learn about. Michelle Leung and I did our project on the Marburg Virus, a close sister of Ebola. You can check out our infographic here! We learned about the different types of RNA and DNA viruses and how they hijack cells and take over the body. I have to admit it was a little scary to learn about, but interesting none-the-less.

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Michelle and I presenting our project on the Marburg Virus. Photo courtesy of Natalie Smith.

Last but not least, we watched Ghost in Your Genes. We learned about Epigenetics, which is the study of changes in organisms caused by modifications of gene expression, rather than a mutation in the actual genetic code itself. I found this fascinating because it literally helps explain why people are the way they are! One quick fun fact is that the epigenome is responsible for differences between identical twins. It is often seen that identical twins have different personality traits. This is because even though they have the same genome, they have different epigenomes, meaning that the way their genes are expressed is different, which creates the differences between the individuals! I highly recommend this documentary, you can check out my reflection on this movie here and learn more about the actual film here!

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This time frame was packed full of awesome lessons and interesting topics and I can’t wait to learn even more! Thanks for reading!

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