Open Access Peer-reviewed

Bar-Coded Enterobacteria: An Undergraduate Microbial Ecology Laboratory Module

Thao Le1, James Trexel1, Alexandra Brugler1, Kristina Tiebel1, Yukari Maezato1, Brian Robertson1, Paul Blum1,

1School of Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska, Lincoln NE, USA

American Journal of Educational Research. 2013, 1(1), 26-30. DOI: 10.12691/education-1-1-6
Published online: August 25, 2017


Microbial community ecology is an area of rapid growth centered within the larger discipline of microbiology. Newly developed research methods using molecular strategies have transformed this area into an accessible research topic. Despite such advances, transmission of this topic into pedagogical form has lagged behind. To improve this situation, an undergraduate research team created an artificial microbial community for class room use. They used color-coded enterobacterial taxa transformed with broad-host range plasmids that encoded green fluorescent protein color variants. Using this instructional tool, a class room teaching module was developed about microbial fitness. Over a multi-semester period, the module was introduced into a conventional microbiology curriculum and refined. The learning outcomes for this module include; understanding community composition, that the members of a community can respond in different ways to external events and, that these responses can be used to measure fitness. Learning outcomes were measured through pre and post testing and indicated a gain in understanding about microbial communities.


Microbial Ecology, Laboratory Exercise, Enterobacteria, Bar-coding, GFP
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