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PCR: a question of taste

Using their own DNA, students will discover and compare their version of a bitter taste receptor gene.

Who is it for: Key stage 4 and post-16
Duration: 5 hours (with 30 minute lunch)
Students conduct a PCR test on this key stage 4 schools' workshop.

Students will explore how different genetic variants evolve in populations and consider a case of convergent evolution.

Using their own DNA students will discover and compare their version of a bitter taste receptor gene (their genotype) to their ability to taste the bitter compound (their phenotype).

In our specially equipped laboratory students will carry out modern molecular biology techniques including; DNA extraction, micropipetting, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), restriction enzyme digest, and gel electrophoresis.

Curriculum links

Key stage 4 and post-16
  • KS3 Biology - gas exchange systems, cells and organisation, health
  • KS3 Working scientifically
  • KS4 Biology - health, disease and the development of medicines, transport systems
  • KS4 Working scientifically

By the end of the workshops students will have discovered:

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How we can use molecular biology techniques to identify genotypes.

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Whether they are a taster or non-taster of PTC and their underlying genotype which causes this characteristic.

How we can use PCR to make copies of a specific piece of DNA.

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How restriction enzymes are used to select the relevant sections of DNA for analysis.

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How electrophoresis can be used to analyse DNA samples.

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How to carry out key molecular biology techniques using specialist equipment including; micro-pipetting, DNA extraction, restriction enzyme digest, gel electrophoresis and PCR (Polymerase chain reaction).

What other teachers say...

“Neil, our presenter, was exceptional. He has a genuine gift for engaging with Sixth Form creatures. Superb knowledge, excellent use of humour and the right level of quirky style that meant all of our students immediately took to him. This is such an essential part of any day – and Neil was absolutely spot on.”

Thirsk School and Sixth Form College

“This workshop is brilliant! The lady I dealt with (at booking) was incredibly helpful and clear with their instructions”

Durham School

“This is an excellent course and by far the best way of delivering this part of the specification.”

St Mary’s Catholic School