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Chimpanzee Droppings Lead Scientists to Evolutionary Discovery
Erica F. Kosal
This interrupted case study focuses on the research of Dr. Beatrice Hahn, who investigates DNA sequences in chimpanzee droppings in order to explore the origins of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Students first consider the types of data that can be gained through collecting chimpanzee feces and studying the behavior of these animals. Students then apply this information to learn more about microevolution when they compare DNA sequences. Finally, students learn about ELISA tests and consider the role of basic and applied science. This case study is appropriate for an introductory biology course for non-majors or majors.
|Keywords:||Human immunodeficiency virus; HIV; simian immunodeficiency virus; SIV; retrovirus; primate; ape; chimpanzee; Pan troglodytes troglodyte; microevolution; evolution; selective pressure; antibodies; ELISA; DNA; RNA; zoonosis; infectious disease; pandemic|
|Topical Area:||Scientific method|
|Educational Level:||High school, Undergraduate lower division|
|Subject Headings:||Biology (General) Evolutionary Biology Molecular Biology Public Health Epidemiology Zoology|
|Copyright:||Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.|
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The supplemental material below may be used with this case study:Click and Learn: Creating Phylogenetic Trees from DNA Sequences
This 27-slide presentation explains how DNA sequences can be used to generate such trees, and how to interpret them. Produced by HHMI BioInteractive.
Immunology Virtual Lab
This virtual lab teaches the procedures of performing an ELISA test to determine whether a particular antibody is present in a patient's blood sample. Produced by HHMI BioInteractive.
VideosThe following video(s) are recommended for use in association with this case study.
Origin of HIV
Video clip of Dr. Beatrice Hahn discussing her research that has traced the origin of HIV to chimpanzees in Cameroon. Running time: 5:32 min. Produced by HHMI BioInteractive.