In this exercise students use a simplified version of an immunoassay that relies on the nonspecific binding of proteins to nitrocellulose followed by the specific binding of antibodies to antigen. This antigen–antibody interaction is detected when a chromogenic substrate, catalyzed by the enzyme conjugated to the antibody, produces a color change. The immunoblot is less expensive and faster to perform than plastic-plate-based assays. I have used this assay for over 10 years in undergraduate courses: in ecology to estimate disease incidence; in botany to explore immunological techniques; and in biotechnology as an exercise in product development.
In this inquiry activity, students use the genetic diversity of common beans ( Phaseolus vulgaris L.) from their local garden center to investigate this species’ resilience to salt stress and viral infection. Students use a number of simple to sophisticated measures of plant performance to gauge the impact of the stressors on plant growth and development. Students identify which cultivars may be useful in increasing future food security.