Your next assignment will involve performing several techniques commonly employed by laboratories engaged in genetic and biotechnology. As you perform the exercises,
you will record all of the pertinent information and present the results in the form of a formal lab report, following the format generally accepted for publication in
a scientific journal.
The advancement of scientific knowledge is a group effort, with many individual researchers generating small pieces of information, which can then be used to answer
larger questions (Consider Watson and Crick’s use of scientific data originally developed by many other people in deciphering the structure of DNA). Because
scientific papers are written exclusively to share information, as opposed to being entertaining, they tend to follow a fairly rigid format consisting of the
• Materials and methods
• Literature cited
There is general agreement about what information should be present in each section of the report.
Title: The title should be one sentence and should reflect the contents of the paper as accurately as possible. As an example:
Bad: Genetics Report
Fair: Chromosomes and Disease
Good: Chromosomal Deletions of Chromosome 5p in Cri-Du-Chat Syndrome
Abstract: The purpose of an abstract is to quickly let the reader know whether they should read the rest of the paper (i.e. is the paper specifically what they are
interested in). A good abstract is one typed, double spaced page (100 to 250 words) which summarizes the purpose of the paper, the data presented, and the major
conclusions that can be drawn from the results.
Introduction: The introduction defines the subject of the report and gives the reader sufficient information and background to understand the rest of the report. A
good introduction should answer the following questions:
• Why was the study performed?
• What knowledge already exists about this subject?
• What is the specific purpose of the study?
Materials and Methods: This section provides all the information a person would need to repeat the experiment. You should list those things that are not common
equipment or reagents (E. coli strain JM101) but not those that would be found in any laboratory (i.e. you don’t need to list water, beakers, rulers, ice baths etc.).
When following a protocol exactly you can reference the original (i.e. Bio-Rad Biotechnology Explorer Transformation Kit pages 7-12) but be sure to include any
deviations from that protocol (…tube sat on ice for twenty minutes instead of fifteen…).
Results: This section should summarize the data from the experiment without getting into the implications of the data. If possible, graphs or tables should be used
to make data easier to examine. Graphs, tables and figures all need a title and a legend explaining the information each contains without referencing the text of the
Discussion: This section should emphasize interpretation of the results, relating them to existing theory and knowledge. This is also the section for you to
speculate on other uses for the information you have just generated as well as possible improvements to the techniques you used in the experiment. Any unexpected
results should be dealt with here.
Literature cited: This is different from a bibliography. Rather, it includes only those papers, books, and web sites that you have specifically included throughout
your report. For example: “Ventner and Collins (2002) showed that the human genome….”. Journals vary in the exact format of the citations they accept. For our
purposes, any standard citation, as found in a style manual or dictionary, will be acceptable.
Your paper will be concerned with the production and isolation of Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP). This process will include several related laboratory techniques,
including bacterial transformation, selection of transformed cells, Growth of recombinant bacteria and isolation of the GFP. Although you will be working as a group,
you will each be responsible for the production of your own report. No late reports will be accepted.
Points that should be addressed in your report (I will leave it to you to determine in what section each belongs) include:
• What is pGLO? What is GFP?
• What is the function of each of the major portions of pGLO?
• What was the goal of the experiment?
• How was production of GFP regulated?
• What was the function of ampicillin? Arabinose? Were the functions of each the same in both liquid and solid media?
• After transformation, four different plates were streaked with bacteria. What was the purpose of each plate?
• How did you identify transformant cells?
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