7 Biotechnology Lab Experiments that are Easier to Teach with Labster

Ginelle Testa

You want the best biotechnology labs for your students. Maybe lesson planning is taking up too much time, you’re recycling the same labs over and over, biotechnology lab equipment is too expensive or inaccessible, or you’re a new teacher. 

Whatever the case, we’ve gathered 7 biotechnology lab experiments you can teach your students. We’ve also matched accompanying virtual labs that can help teach the experiments.

1. Multiplex Automated Genomic Engineering (MAGE)

MAGE is a recombinant engineering tool for large-scale programming and accelerated evolution of cells. It’s a complex process that requires equipment that most institutions do not have access to. MAGE is a sophisticated biotechnology that students may have difficulty wrapping their heads around on a conceptual level without access to the equipment. 

In Labster’s simulation, Multiplex Automated Genomic Engineering (MAGE): Conjuring massive mutations, students will gain insight into how scientists can improve children’s eyesight by genetically modifying E.coli to produce more beta-carotene. They’ll use advanced equipment and learn to perform MAGE cycles. 

Virtual lab using Multiplex Automated Genomic Engineering (MAGE).

2. ChIP-Exo

Proteins interact with DNA in a very specific fashion. Learning about these specificities helps in advancing our understanding of how meticulously the biological world is designed. These interaction studies are carried out using lab (experimental) and in silico (computational) tools. One such lab tool is ChIP-exo. Since proteins interact with DNA at the molecular level, students often need help comprehending how and what happens when ChIP-exo is performed. 

In Labster’s ChIP-exo simulation, students perform the chromatin immunoprecipitation with exonuclease treatment (ChIP-exo) protocol, and prepare the target DNA to learn how E. coli survive in acid stress conditions.

3. Fluorescence-automated Cell Sorting (FACS)

Fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) is a specialized type of flow cytometry. It provides a method for sorting a heterogeneous mixture of cells one at a time based on each cell's specific light scattering and fluorescent characteristics. It provides fast, objective, and quantitative recording of fluorescent signals from individual cells and physical separation of cells of particular interest. Since fluorescence microscopes are expensive, they aren’t always available to students in academic setups. This makes classes entirely theoretical.

In Labster’s FACS simulation, students will learn the basics of flow cytometry and discover how to use a flow cytometer with fluorescence detection. The FACS simulation helps learners to visualize what is happening on a microscopic level.

FACS simulation helping students understand on a microscopic level.

4. Molecular Cloning

Molecular cloning is one of the techniques that has laid the foundation for modern biotechnology. Molecular cloning and genetic engineering have become some of the most fundamental techniques ranging from pharmaceutical and bioethanol production to medical and basic research. Seeing as this subject can only be taught through theories and textbooks, its practical use is limited in the classroom. 

In Labster’s Molecular Cloning simulation, students will learn how to assemble an expression vector containing RAD52 and GFP. The aim is to control the expression level of RAD52 with DoxycyclineDoxycyline and to monitor the expression level by observing the GFP signal.

5. Next Generation Sequencing 

NGS, an advanced sequencing technology, is proving its potential in various fields like medical diagnostics, agricultural biotechnology, novel gene discovery, and genetic therapeutics. It uses multiple short DNA molecules sequenced in parallel, thereby being called “massively parallel sequencing,” too. Students aren’t usually able to work with NGS equipment because of the high expenses and the consumables needed to perform NGS.  Being less acquainted with the technology, they can’t explore its full potential.

In Labster’s Next Generation Sequencing simulation, students will learn the different steps of sample preparation, sequencing, data collection, and data analysis using the NGS technique. They’ll be able to handle human samples in a way they cannot in the classroom.

Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) virtual lab digging up bones.


CRISPR is a new technique in genetic engineering that allows scientists to make precise changes in the genetic code. CRISPR technology involves genes and enzymes, which are tiny biological molecules. They cannot be seen even through a microscope, so it is much harder for students to understand this topic.

In Labster’s CRISPR-Cas applied to TGF-beta induced EMT simulation, students will learn how to detect the hallmarks of EMT using immunofluorescence and knock out the correct gene to revert the process using CRISPR.

7. Genetically Engineered Machine

Genetically engineered machines have varied applications, such as sensing biological molecules (biosensors). Students learning about genetically engineered machines for the first time might find the lessons daunting. The entire process of creating a fully-functional genetically engineered machine is complicated. It’s like creating an electronic circuit by assembling each part on a circuit board. The process is delicate, requiring high levels of precision at every step, leaving little room for mistakes. In virtual labs, students can mess up without consequences. 

In Labster’s Genetically Engineered Machine simulation, students will join an iGEM team to design a biosensor that can sense biofilm-forming bacteria. Students will combine two BioBrick parts and transform bacteria with the gene construct. Will they be able to create a novel synthetic organism that can be used as a biosensor? 

Overview of lab work needed to create the biosensor in the virtual lab.

Questions for Consideration:

  • How could you incorporate these virtual labs into your teaching plans?
  • What are some other biotechnology labs you wish you could teach? Check out our catalog of 300 simulations to see if you can find what you’re looking for!

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