Science Projects Project Guides Ask An Expert Blog Science Careers Teachers Parents Students

Transforming Bacteria to Make Colored Pigments *

Difficulty
Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites A basic understanding of molecular biology and access to a laboratory where bacteria can be grown are required for this project.
Material Availability The kit required for this project can only be purchased through a school or educational business.
Cost High ($100 - $150)
Safety Adult supervision is required in the laboratory facility.
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.

Abstract

Can bacteria be altered to produce life-saving insulin for diabetics? Or change color to indicate the presence of a harmful toxin? Yes, it can! Using biotechnology, scientists work daily on problems like these. It starts with selecting a gene you want bacteria to produce and creating a sequence of DNA that has that gene and a promoter that will help express it at the right time and at the right levels. The next hurdle is actually getting this engineered DNA into the bacteria and functional. One way of doing that is a method called bacterial transformation. In bacterial transformation, bacteria are treated in a manner which induces some of them to take up a plasmid of DNA and express it. It doesn't work for every bacterial cell though.

Just how is bacterial transformation done? How efficient is it? Does the efficiency change if you use different strains of bacteria? If the bacteria do take up the engineered DNA, is the level of expression always the same? You explore these questions as well as many others about bacterial transformation and the expression of engineered DNA using the BioBuilder What a Colorful World Kit from our partners at Carolina Biological.

The kit contains materials to do several transformations of two different strains of E. coli. The plasmids included have a pigment inducing gene under the regulation of different promoters. With the kit and access to a laboratory with bacteria growing equipment like incubators and shakers, you'll be ready to explore some interesting and real-world biotechnology.

Share your story with Science Buddies!

I did this project Yes, I Did This Project! Please log in (or create a free account) to let us know how things went.

Credits

Sandra Slutz, PhD, Science Buddies

Cite This Page

General citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.

MLA Style

Slutz, Sandra. "Transforming Bacteria to Make Colored Pigments." Science Buddies, 17 Oct. 2018, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/BioChem_p013/biotechnology-techniques/bacterial-transformation-efficiency. Accessed 18 Nov. 2018.

APA Style

Slutz, S. (2018, October 17). Transforming Bacteria to Make Colored Pigments. Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/BioChem_p013/biotechnology-techniques/bacterial-transformation-efficiency


Last edit date: 2018-10-17

Share your story with Science Buddies!

I did this project Yes, I Did This Project! Please log in (or create a free account) to let us know how things went.

Ask an Expert

The Ask an Expert Forum is intended to be a place where students can go to find answers to science questions that they have been unable to find using other resources. If you have specific questions about your science fair project or science fair, our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.

Ask an Expert

Related Links

If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:

biological technician working at laboratory bench

Biological Technician

What do the sequencing of the human genome, the annual production of millions of units of life-saving vaccines, and the creation of new drought-tolerant rice varieties have in common? They were all accomplished through the hard work of biological technicians. Scientists may come up with the overarching plans, but the day-to-day labor behind biotechnology advances is often the work of skilled biological technicians. Read more
female biologist plotting animal range data on computer

Biologist

Life is all around you in beauty, abundance, and complexity. Biologists are the scientists who study life in all its forms and try to understand fundamental life processes, and how life relates to its environment. They answer basic questions, like how do fireflies create light? Why do grunion fish lay their eggs based on the moon and tides? What genes control deafness? Why don't cancer cells die? How do plants respond to ultraviolet light? Beyond basic research, biologists might also apply their research and create new biotechnology. There are endless discoveries waiting to be found in the field of biology! Read more

News Feed on This Topic

 
, ,
Note: A computerized matching algorithm suggests the above articles. It's not as smart as you are, and it may occasionally give humorous, ridiculous, or even annoying results! Learn more about the News Feed

Looking for more science fun?

Try one of our science activities for quick, anytime science explorations. The perfect thing to liven up a rainy day, school vacation, or moment of boredom.

Find an Activity