Class Prep for Nov. 22: Genes, Proteins and Genetic Testing

NPR logoTo prepare for class on Nov. 22nd, please listen to the two news stories below and work through the questions below to gain familiarity with some important concepts of the Central Dogma. Be prepared to share your responses to these questions during class discussion!

NPR: From Kale To Pale Ale, A Love Of Bitter May Be In Your Genes

  • What is a gene?
  • What is a taste receptor?
  • How do different genes result in different experiences in tasting bitterness?

Continue reading Class Prep for Nov. 22: Genes, Proteins and Genetic Testing


Naturalist Perspectives Challenge: Genetics in the Landscape

red-tailed_hawk_buteo_jamaicensis_full_body_1880pxNow that we’ve begun to discuss genetics, this challenge will apply some of the concepts in this part of the course to the places you’ve been visiting. To work on this challenge, please follow these directions:

  1. Visit your Site Alpha, Beta or Gamma, then pick and observe an organism. Any organism will do.
  2. Identify (ID) the species as best you can using a field guide; book, app, website, etc. are all fine, but be sure mention what field guide you used when you write your blog post in step 4.
  3. Now that you know the specific species you’ve been looking at, do a little research about its genetic makeup and find out…
    • How many chromosomes does it have? How many sets of chromosomes does it have? Is it diploid like us?
    • Is there a gene that is responsible for a particular trait? For example, does a single gene impact the color of an individual of this species?
    • If possible, go a little further and find out if specific alleles of a gene are known to produce a certain phenotype. For example, within a single species of bird (such as red-tailed hawks), there may be some some individuals who appear darker (called dark morphs), and this is due to the melanic gene allele these individuals have.
  4. Summarize your work for steps 2 and 3 in a blog post.

Class Prep for Nov. 15th: The Central Dogma

central_dogma_gate copy

To prepare for class on November 15th, please read one of the following:

  • EO Wilson’s Life on Earth chapter 10
  • Raven’s Biology 15.1-3, 15.6-9 and
  • OpenStax Biology 14.2-4, 15.1-2, 15.5

Then look over these slides on the Central Dogma. Please note that if you are reading Biology by Raven or OpenStax you’ll need to use other sections of the textbook or additional resources (such as the slides from previous years or Wikipedia) to get familiarized with the basics of chromosomes.

Also, these animations may be helpful (there are versions of these in EO Wilson’s Life on Earth).

Naturalist Perspectives Challenge: AWEsomeness

img_5150Awe. You know it when you feel it, but why do you feel it? Why does it matter? Consider these questions as you embark upon this challenge.

First, do the following in whatever order you’d like:

Then, write a blog post that  Continue reading Naturalist Perspectives Challenge: AWEsomeness

Naturalist Perspective Challenge: Visit a Conservation or Ecological Restoration Site

img_3213If we have time later in the semester, we’ll talk about preserving biodiversity and ecosystem services along with ecological restoration. But before temperatures drop further and days get even shorter, try to take the time to visit a place that has been deliberately set aside for nature. There are some really close by, like the Alewife Reservation and the Cambridge Stormwater Wetland; you can also get recommendations from Prof. Mertl and Prof. Morimoto.

Here are the instructions for this challenge:  Continue reading Naturalist Perspective Challenge: Visit a Conservation or Ecological Restoration Site