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Cow of the Future

Genetically Engineering a Microbe to Reduce Bovine Methane Emissions



Co Authors:

Richard C. Stewart
Department of Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics
University of Maryland
alec@umd.edu

Daniel C. Stein
Department of Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics
University of Maryland
dcstein@umd.edu

Kevin S. McIver
Department of Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics
University of Maryland
kmciver@umd.edu

John Buchner
Department of Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics
University of Maryland
jbuchner@umd.edu

Ann C. Smith
Office of Undergraduate Studies
University of Maryland
asmith@umd.edu

Abstract:

In this case developed for an introductory general microbiology course, students consider concepts of bacterial genetics as they act as consultants to a foundation interested in funding innovative products. Students take the role of advising "the baroness" who provides the funds for the foundation. The Baroness has no expertise in bacterial genetics and is trying to understand a proposal for the development of a microbial product that would impact the amount of methane emitted to the atmosphere by cattle.  Students must consider the role of rumen bacteria and how genetic modification may alter the potential of these bacteria. The case engages students in learning basic principles of bacterial genetics and biotechnology as they consider how microbes and microbial processes impact the environment. The case could also be used in an introductory genetics or biotechnology course.

Objectives:
  • Understand the concepts of information flow in organisms, gene expression, genetic change (mutation), and biotechnology.
  • Develop an appreciation for the impact of society on science
  • Develop an awareness of the impact of microorganisms and microbial products or processes on solving significant problems and the value of biotechnology.
  • Understand how genetic molecules and concepts are represented in symbols and models.
Keywords: Information flow; gene exchange; probiotics; Methylcococcus capsulatus; methanotroph; methanotrophy; rumen; cattle; cows; methane; methane oxidation; biotechnology, genetic engineering
Topical Area: Social issues
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Clicker, Interrupted, Problem-Based Learning
Language: English
Subject Headings: Microbiology   Genetics / Heredity   Molecular Biology   Biotechnology   Bioinformatics   Biology (General)  
Date Posted: 7/16/2014
Date Modified: N/A
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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