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Cow of the Future

Genetically Engineering a Microbe to Reduce Bovine Methane Emissions


Author(s)

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 Areas

Social issues

Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

Clicker, Interrupted, Problem-Based Learning

Language

English

Subject Headings

Microbiology  |   Genetics / Heredity  |   Molecular Biology  |   Biotechnology  |   Bioinformatics  |   Biology (General)  |  


Date Posted

7/16/2014

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