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ERIC Number: EJ1148168
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 9
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9266
Greenbeards in Yeast: An Undergraduate Laboratory Exercise to Teach the Genetics of Cooperation
Ågren, J. Arvid; Williamson, Robert J.; Campitelli, Brandon E.; Wheeler, Jill
Journal of Biological Education, v51 n3 p228-236 2017
Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in our understanding of the social behaviour of microbes. Here, we take advantage of these developments to present an undergraduate laboratory exercise that uses the cooperative flocculating behaviour of yeast ("Saccharomyces sp.") to introduce the concept of inclusive fitness and teach the genetics of cooperation. Students generate their own data using co-cultures of various yeast strains and perform statistical analyses to test whether kin selection or greenbeard effects determine the cooperative flocculating behaviour. The lab has run successfully for two consecutive years in a second year course with some 1,200 students per year at the University of Toronto, Canada. We discuss the benefits of using microbes to teach social evolution, describe the set-up and learning outcomes of the laboratory exercise, and then outline possible extension and variants of the lab. In addition to providing students with the opportunity to use a model organism to study social behaviour, students are also taught common laboratory skills, such as replica plating and sterile techniques. Ultimately, while the genetics of cooperation has traditionally been taught through computer simulations and evolutionary games, this exercise demonstrates a way to experimentally introduce the topic.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada (Toronto)
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A