Antibiotics, Magic Pill or Overkill? Easy PCR

Overview:  In this introductory PCR lab, students will analyze the DNA from different strains of bacteria to determine if they carry the gene for ampicillin resistance (ampR).  Students will amplify the ampicillin resistance (ampR) gene from a strain known to be resistant to ampicillin (control) and from an unknown strain (test). The results of the PCR reaction will be determined by agarose gel electrophoresis. 

Curriculum Connections: bacteria  evolution  antibiotic resistance  recombinant DNA  polymerase chain reaction (PCR)  gel electrophoresis

Experimental Timing:  From start to finish this lab takes 90-120 minutes. However, there are many good stopping points in this protocol that make it possible to complete the lab in a series of 45-50 minute periods.  For additional information, see "Instructor Planning Guide" in the Teacher Materials.

Specialized Equipment Required: p20 micropipettes • thermocycler (each student group will set up 3 PCR samples)  gel electrophoresis units with power supplies (each student group will run 3 samples and each gel must also have a lane available for DNA ladder)  UV or blue light source  centrifuge (optional)