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ERIC Number: EJ791189
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 6
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 16
ISSN: ISSN-1059-9053
An Exercise to Demonstrate Soil Microbial Diversity in Introductory Environmental Science Classrooms
Yarwood, Stephanie A.; Sulzman, Elizabeth W.
Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education, v37 p53-58 2008
High diversity of microorganisms in the soil matrix has been the focus of extensive research in the fields of soil biology and microbial ecology, and is a key concept that students in the environmental or biological sciences should understand. Two activities to demonstrate diversity and highlight the challenges faced in studying soil microbial diversity are presented here. Using a bag (soil sample) containing different candy types (soil microbes), students explore isolation and molecular techniques, two strategies used in studying microbial diversity, and are asked to consider the limitations these methods have in understanding complex microbial communities. In a second activity students use this collection of candy to construct mock-phylogenetic trees. These hands-on activities provide students with a fun way to learn about microbial diversity. Student assessment scores increased by 35% after participating in these activities and results from final exam questions show that a high percentage of students retained the major concepts demonstrated during these activities. (Contains 3 figures and 3 tables.)
American Society of Agronomy. 677 South Segoe Road, Madison, WI 53711. Tel: 608-273-8080; Fax: 608-273-2021; Web site:
Publication Type: Guides - Classroom - Teacher; Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A