Dear netters: Thanks for your many replies to my message back in November:
*Teaching with Arabidopsis*. For those who do not recall, or are new to the
group, I did a semester-long project in my undergraduate Plant Physiology
course this past semester in which students isolated M2 mutants of Arabidopsis,
grew them up to collect M3 seeds, and then compared their mutants with the wild
type in experiments of their own design, making extensive use of the AAtDB.
Each of the 4 groups found at least one interesting mutant and all obtained
interesting data. We collected M3 seeds from about 25 mutants: one that looks
like hy3, 5 or 6 auxin resistant mutants, a bunch of chlorophyll deficient
mutants, and several developmental mutants. None have been backcrossed to
eliminate multiple mutations.
The goals of the project were to have students do an independent project (in
a small group) in which the outcome was not known, to design their own
experiments, to practice writing in a scientific format, and to learn to use
electronic databases. Also, the project emphasized the relationships between
the various disciplines in biology (molecular genetics, biochemistry,
physiology, environmental responses, etc).
The student evaluations for the project were very positive, especially
regarding the independent, creative aspects. We ran close on time by the end
of the term, but this project can definitely be done in a standard 15 week
semester. The types of mutants students could isolate are endless (as you
know) so repetition could be avoided for a long time (making the course very
interesting to teach as well). I would be happy to send more detailed
information about the project to interested netters, and would be glad to hear
comments about the approach, pro or con.
Department of Biology
James Madison University
Harrisonburg, VA 22807
fac_jmonroe at vax1.acs.jmu.edu