Bioprospecting for cellulose-degrading microbes

This is a long-term inquiry activity in which students investigate locations they believe harbor cellulose-digesting microbes, collect samples, isolate them on selective media, and screen them for cellulase activity. These novel microbes may be useful for the production of cellulosic ethanol. In the process they learn about plating techniques, serial dilutions, symbiotic relationships and enzyme specificity. Two methods are provided, one focusing on isolation of pure microbial strains, the other focusing on finding symbiotic communities of microbes.

Go To:

Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center
U.S. Department of Energy
Activity takes about seven class periods. Additional materials required.

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Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips

Instructional materials are excellent.

Success in using this activity will depend on the teacher's background in microbiological techniques.

All materials and files are accessible and functional.

Requires many materials, although most high school labs classes would have access to have these materials.

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