Microbial biodiversity and its rich arsenal of natural products is an important and complex biological concept. We propose the use of Streptomyces, one of the most diverse bacterial genera and a major inhabitant of soil, as a model to explain the relevance and importance of this concept. Students will perform experiments ranging from isolation and selection of Streptomyces species, to performing fungal and bacterial challenge assays to evaluate their biocontrol capacity, to screening for specialized metabolic properties such as the production of lipases, amylases, and cellulases. Accompanied by active discussions on the experimental process and results, and integrated into the general microbiology curriculum, this real-life discovery-based lab exercise engages students in current topics concerning natural product discovery and reinforces their understanding of several important concepts in microbiology and biotechnology.

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