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Genetic Transfer in Bacteria: Prevent the rise of superbugs! Virtual Lab

Prevent Dr. One from wiping out humanity! Complete a number of learning games to understand the three ways of genetic transfer in bacteria, transduction, transformation, and conjugation, and use your learnings to prevent the rise of superbugs.

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Genetic Transfer in Bacteria: Prevent the rise of superbugs!

About this Simulation

Humanity is in grave danger due to powerful antibiotics becoming ineffective in the treatment of multi-resistant bacteria, also called superbugs. In this simulation, you will learn about the powerful abilities of these superbug bacteria. Your task is to find out how they acquire the foreign DNA that allows them to become superbugs.

Beat Dr. One in the board game ”Superbugs!”

In this simulation, you will try to beat Dr. One in a board game. This board game isn’t like other board games, however. Here, you will learn about the spread of bacterial infection and try to prevent a global pandemic! Dr. One is the enemy, trying to wipe out the human race, and it’s your task to save them! While playing this game, you will learn the key concepts of horizontal gene transfer in bacteria.

Learn the basics of bacterial genetics

First, you will learn about mutation and genetic elements of bacteria, which include chromosomes and plasmids. You will recreate the famous Microbial Evolution and Growth Arena (MEGA) plate developed by Harvard University and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology to highlight the inheritance of antibiotic resistance across many generations of bacteria. You have the freedom to decide where to grow your culture and how to set the antibiotic concentration levels. In the process, you will strengthen your understanding of the concept of mutation and its relation to the development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria.

Perform bacteria culture experiments

The spread of antibiotic resistance is not only a result of inherited random genetic mutations. By analyzing a patient’s sample with a resistant strain of Acinetobacter baumanii, you will be able to identify three methods of horizontal gene transfer that the bacteria can use to acquire foreign DNA. You will set up agar plates with your sample and controls, and complete a series of small learning games to understand the mechanisms and concepts behind conjugation, transformation and transduction.

Dive into the microbe realm

After completing the experiments and learning activities, you will take a virtual leap into the microscopic world. With bacteria, plasmids, and bacteriophages floating around you, your task is to find out which type of horizontal gene transfer will occur, based on your observation on the bacteria’s characteristics and surrounding environment.

Will you be able to grasp all the learning concepts behind the acquisition of antibiotic resistance? And will you be able to prevent Dr. One from winning the board game and wiping out the human race? We hope so!

Learning Objectives

At the end of this simulation, you will be able to:

  • Distinguish vertical gene transfer from horizontal gene transfer

  • Understand the concept of genetic variability and survivability in bacteria

  • Describe the concept of horizontal gene transfer

  • Identify genetic elements and cell machinery required for DNA transfer

  • Outline the main events that occur during conjugation, transformation, and transduction

  • Discuss the outcome and barrier of genetic transfer in bacteria

Techniques in Lab

At the end of this simulation, you will be able to:

  • Bacteria morphology examination
  • MEGA-Plate setup
  • Basic agar plate setup

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