In 2019 the Biology 100 class of Wenatchee Valley College at Omak (WVCO) worked on a DNA barcoding project with Tabitha Graves’s huckleberry research project for bear habitat in Glacier National Park, Montana. Students isolated DNA from huckleberry leaf samples from the National Park. They then ran a PCR with an rbcL primer pair to target the rubisco gene in plant chloroplasts. The PCR product was sequenced by a private company, Genewiz, and the DNA sequence was analyzed through DNA Subway. Twelve student groups, one or two students per group, isolated DNA from huckleberry leaf samples that was sequenced and analyzed. Twelve samples were determined to be of the genus Vaccinium. One of the twelve samples distinguished between the five species of huckleberry, identified the sample as Vaccinium membranaceum, and was published in GenBank. They showed that DNA barcoding can be used successfully to aid in the identification of this species of huckleberry. There were many student outcomes, including hands-on skills with the tools of DNA technology, contributing to a real-world project, and analyzing data for DNA sequence matches. This is a great lab exercise to use for AP biology classes, two-year community college biology classes, and four-year college biology classes at the 100 to 200 level.
Using DNA Barcoding Methods to Identify Wild Huckleberry, Vaccinium membranaceum, as a Classroom Project
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Jeff Dykes, Kristy Kappenman, Emily D. Nissen; Using DNA Barcoding Methods to Identify Wild Huckleberry, Vaccinium membranaceum, as a Classroom Project. The American Biology Teacher 1 January 2022; 84 (1): 40–44. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/abt.2022.84.1.40
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