The GMO Investigator Kit uses PCR and DNA electrophoresis to test for the presence of two different GMO-associated DNA sequences: the 35S promoter of the cauliflower mosaic virus and the terminator of the nopaline synthase gene of Agrobacterium tumefaciens. These DNA sequences are present in >85% of the GM crops that are approved for distribution worldwide. As a control for the integrity of the plant DNA extracted from food, PCR is used to amplify a section of the photosystem II chloroplast gene that is common to most higher plants. Students engage in a complete investigation in which they gather sample food items from the grocery store, extract DNA from the samples, amplify the DNA using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and use agarose gel electrophoresis to identify the presence or absence of amplified GMO sequences.
Features and Benefits
The kit allows a guided-inquiry approach. Students conduct sophisticated scientific procedures employing multiple levels of controls that allow them to assess the validity of their results. Students are able to:
- Extract and amplify DNA from eight food samples
- Perform genuine diagnostic procedures
- Use PCR and electrophoresis
Students determine the presence or absence of GMO sequences in their food samples and answer the following questions:
- Did we successfully extract DNA?
- Did our PCR work as expected?
- Do we have GM content?
Regardless of where your students stand on the GM debate, won't they be interested to know how much of the corn– or soy–based foods they eat has been genetically modified?
- Three-session laboratory activity, 45 min per session
- Provides sufficient materials for eight student workstations, up to four students per workstation