IB pupils conducted Biology genetics experiments

With the IB course completed, pupils were offered the opportunity to carry out some genetics experiments in Biology as part of the enrichment opportunities they were given. The pupils extracted chloroplast DNA from four different species of plant and purified the DNA to prepare it for PCR amplification. PCR stands for ‘polymerase chain reaction’ and it involves several cycles of heating, cooling and re-heating the DNA to recreate conditions similar to those that take place in organisms when DNA is copied. This will then amplify the DNA extracted, making multiple copies of the genetic material and is a similar process to what is carried out during PCR tests for the Covid virus. Once amplified, pupils then loaded the DNA sample into agarose gel and used electrophoresis to separate the different genes from the sample so they could see which chloroplast genes each species had in common. This practical took several hours to complete over a few days, but the pupils learnt a lot about genetic techniques used in more advanced laboratories, as well as how to use equipment such as micropipettes, thermocyclers and gel electrophoresis tanks.