Transforming Bacteria to Make Colored Pigments *
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.
Cite This PageGeneral 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.
Last edit date: 2018-10-17
Ask an ExpertThe 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
If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:
Biological TechnicianWhat 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
BiologistLife 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
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
Explore Our Science Videos
Why Won't it Mix? Discover the Brazil Nut Effect
Make a Lemon Volcano - Fun Science Experiment
Stretchy Balloons! Fun STEM Activity