What are good labs for a Developmental Biology Course?

in #stemq5 years ago

Well my science career has taken an interesting turn as of late and I thought I'd turn to SteemSTEM for some suggestions.

A few months ago I was at a party with a few professors from a local college. They mentioned that they were short on adjunct professors for the upcoming semester. I had some extra time so I offered to help out. They took me up on the offer and put me in charge of a new developmental biology lab while a colleague handles the corresponding lecture. The description of the course is below:

This is a study of the principles of development and their application to animal and plant embryos, regeneration, metamorphosis, cancer and related processes. The laboratory includes observation and experimentation with living animal and plant material, plant tissue culture, and examination of prepared slides. The course consists of three lectures and three hours of laboratory a week.

The book the lecture portion of the class is using is Developmental Biology by Scott F Gilbert

Now here's the problem: The lab portion of this course hasn't been * Ahem * developed yet (pause for canned laughter). To be clear, my colleague at I have a rough outline for the labs we think will work, but it's hard to do something specific for developmental biology that doesn't overlap with typical labs in a molecular biology, genetics, or anatomy course and also fits within three hours.

So, I want to hear from the @SteemSTEM community. Anyone have good ideas for labs that will work here?

Also a follow up query. I haven't been able to find many resources online for creating this type of course so I thought I'd post my labs on Steemit after I make them. If anyone is interested in this sort of thing, let me know.

StemQ Notice: This post was originally submitted on StemQ.io, a Q&A application for STEM subjects powered by the Steem blockchain.


You can design experiments with ESC and iPSC cell lines. Since cell culture work is easy, I suggest that you look up some differentiation protocols and differentiate your stem cells into a Bering Cardiomyocyte, neurons, skin cells etc. Setting up organotypic cultures esp for skin would be cool as well. If you have mice available, you can also do embryonic development studies. For instance - is differentiation of stem cells cell autonomous or dependent on niche. You can inject ESC at difference embryonic and even adult animal niches and check for their states after few days. If mice is an issue work with Hydra or planarian. You can just cut those things to pieces and study the developmental Biology. Fruit fly is another options.

If you want to keep the experiments in in-vitro format, you can order some yamanaka factor plasmids, some crispr tool kits and study the molecular states of differentiated vs stem cells.

If you are more mathematically inclined, you can make students make morphogen diffusion models, and gene switch models on Matlab. Predict the patterning and see if you can recapitulate any real world examples.

If you have any questions regarding set up of any experiment, just write back. Will be happy to help.

A comment worth of a full answer post!😉

Wow, these ideas are fantastic I hadn't even considered a lot of them. I think the STEM cell lines are awesome and since @replichara had a similar idea I'll probably look into that first. In fact, just briefly googling this shows that Sigma has kits and protocols specifically for this kind of work. A bit pricey but super cool stuff.

The morphogen diffusion models seems like a great option if any experiments fall though as well, though I'm not sure if we have access to Matlab. I'll have to look into that.

I'll definitely let you know if I have any questions going through these options.

Incase you don't have access to matlab, you can simulate things in python as well. But matlab is much more easier imho.

Pfff... Difficult question. One research group from my old institute worked with plant callus. I don't know if that would be useful to you.

Hmmm, I've never worked with plant callus before. I might be too unfamiliar with it to try working with it in a teaching lab. It's still and interesting thought though. Thanks!

What about taking an iPS cell line and differentiate them into certain cell types with growth factors / cytokines to promote such?

That would be awesome. Any easy way to get an iPS cell line though?

Make your own iPS line from e.g. MEFs by overexpressing the Yamanaka factors, colony picking and expanding. You'd need to supply the cells with ESC medium. Or you order a line from ATCC. Not exactly easy/cheap ways :D Maybe you ask neighboring labs if they have any?

Compare the toxicity and teratogenic effects of intercalating dyes (commonly used in biomedical laboratories) using a model organism with fast generation times. Is SYBR Green safer than Ethidium Bromide (EB)? What are the effects of disposing EB in bleach as some labs do?

Thanks for the quick reply!

That's a very good idea. We do plan to work with an immortal human cell line. The generation time isn't that fast, but it's quick enough that students can treat cells with both and assess growth after a week. We could also try this with C. elegans, but I'm not sure if we'll get a chance to work with them.

The dyes might also make DNA visible in fluorescent microscopy.

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