Everyone choose a genome

Not enough reference genomes from the built environment?
Looking for ways to increase undergraduate participation in research?

The marriage of these two concepts seems fairly straightforward.   Bring undergraduates into the lab, have them culture microbes from the built environment, then sequence and assemble genomes… one per student.

That’s the process currently underway in our lab, with support from microBEnet and the Sloan Foundation.

In addition to the obvious goal of sequencing reference genomes we hope to develop a workflow and protocols for undergraduate isolation and sequencing of reference genomes.  Ideally this would be transferable to other labs, even classrooms.

Currently there are 6 undergraduates involved in this project, having commenced in January.   Since then they have learned sterile technique, basic microbiology/molecular biology protocols, 16S PCR, basic cloning, and how to analyze 16S rRNA sequences.  Each one has now processed their own environmental samples and we’re in the process of screening candidates for sequencing and starting to prepare Illumina libraries.

In addition to the science, this project has a strong outreach component.   The students will be blogging about their experience in this space and footage is being taken for a short “documentary” of the whole process.  Check back here for updates.

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