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J Microbiol Biol Educ. 2009 Dec 17;8(1):3-12. Print 2007.

DNA microarrays in the undergraduate microbiology lab: experimentation and handling large datasets in as few as six weeks.

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Department of Biology, Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania 17013.


DNA microarrays have significantly impacted the study of gene expression on a genome-wide level but also have forced a more global consideration of research questions. As such, it has become critical to introduce undergraduate students to genomics approaches to research. A challenge with performing a DNA microarray experiment in the teaching lab is determining the time required for the study and how to handle the voluminous data generated. At an unexpectedly low cost, a 6-week, project-based lab module has been developed that provides 3 weeks for wet lab (hands-on work with the DNA microarrays) and 3 weeks for dry lab (analyzing data, using databases to help with data analysis, and considering the meaning of data within the large dataset). Options exist for extending the number of weeks dedicated to the project, but 6 weeks is sufficient for providing an introduction to both experimental genomics and data analysis. Students indicate that being able to both perform array experiments and thoroughly analyze data enriches their understanding of genomics and the complexity of biological systems.


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