Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 48–59 | Cite as

Gene Polymorphism Studies in a Teaching Laboratory

  • Jeffry Shultz


I present a laboratory procedure for illustrating transcription, post-transcriptional modification, gene conservation, and comparative genetics for use in undergraduate biology education. Students are individually assigned genes in a targeted biochemical pathway, for which they design and test polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers. In this example, students used genes annotated for the steroid biosynthesis pathway in soybean. The authoritative Kyoto encyclopedia of genes and genomes (KEGG) interactive database and other online resources were used to design primers based first on soybean expressed sequence tags (ESTs), then on ESTs from an alternate organism if soybean sequence was unavailable. Students designed a total of 50 gene-based primer pairs (37 soybean, 13 alternative) and tested these for polymorphism state and similarity between two soybean and two pea lines. Student assessment was based on acquisition of laboratory skills and successful project completion. This simple procedure illustrates conservation of genes and is not limited to soybean or pea. Cost per student estimates are included, along with a detailed protocol and flow diagram of the procedure.


Undergraduate Genes Genetics PCR EST Soybean Comparative genetics Exons 



Expressed sequence tag


Kyoto encyclopedia of genes and genomes


National center for biotechnology information


Polymerase chain reaction


Randomly amplified polymorphic DNA


Untranslated region



I gratefully acknowledge Jeffry Ray and James Smith from the United States Department of Agriculture (Stoneville, MS) for the provision of soybean DNA and Clarice Coyne, also from the USDA (Pullman, WA) for the provision of Pea DNA. I also wish to thank Jeffrey Yule for critical review of the manuscript. The continued support of the Louisiana Tech University College of Applied and Natural Sciences and the Student Technology Fee Board is greatly appreciated.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesLouisiana Tech UniversityRustonUSA

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