Sapelo Island Microbial Observatory Sapelo Island Microbial Observatory
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High School Outreach in Marine Microbiology

SIMO is providing research experiences in microbial biology to promising 11th grade high school biology students from Athens, GA. Students attending Cedar Shoals High School participate annually in a weekend trip to Sapelo to take part in SIMO research. Two of these students receive 8-week summer internships with SIMO researchers. This past year, 22 Cedar Shoals students visited Sapelo in early April where they initiated a project to isolate novel coastal marine bacteria. Each team went on to identify their isolates in follow-up labs using 16S rDNA amplification, sequencing, and analysis. Funding was provided by NSF and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Photography: Peter Frey

High School AP Biology Resources

Two high school-level laboratory exercises for AP Biology courses were developed collaboratively by SIMO researchers and teachers.

The molecular biology exercise is a four-part series that includes hands-on experience with bacterial cultures, DNA extraction, PCR amplification, and gel electrophoresis. Students work with isolates they obtain themselves (we use bacteria cultured from Sapelo Island seawater, but any lake or soil sample will do) to amplify the 16S rRNA gene. Access to a gel electrophoresis system and a thermal cycler is required. In a fifth part of the series, students prepare PCR products for sequencing and (if funding is available for sequencing at a commercial center) bioinformatic analysis.

The bioinformatics exercise is a five-part series that gives students hands-on experience with nucleic acid and protein sequences, and reinforces knowledge of major metabolic pathways. Using genome sequences of marine bacteria isolated from coastal seawater at Sapelo Island, students use BLAST analysis to identify genes required for glycolysis, the citrate cycle, and oxidative phosphorylation.

Inquiry Approach to Molecular Biology with Salt Marsh Bacteria
- Molecular Biology Module

Understanding and Analysis of Genomes
- Bioinformatics Module


College Bacterial Biodiversity Laboratory Exercise

An advanced college-level laboratory exercise in bacterial biodiversity was developed by SIMO researchers to introduce junior and senior science majors at the University of Georgia to nucleic acid-based methods for bacterial diversity studies.

In this laboratory exercise, students begin with samples of water, sediments, or plant detritus collected from Sapelo marsh environments, and then proceed to isolate bacteria from the samples, amplify the 16S rRNA gene of selected isolates, analyze the sequence using BLAST at NCBI (GenBank), construct a phylogenetic tree using the tree-building module at the Ribosomal Database Project, and finally submit their sequence to the SIMO 16S rRNA database and GenBank.

The SIMO Bacterial Diversity Lab is available in pdf and Microsoft Word format, along with examples of laboratory reports prepared by students enrolled in Marine Biology (MARS3450) at the University of Georgia.


National Science FoundationThe Sapelo Island Microbial Observatory is funded by the National Science Foundation

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant number MCB-0702125. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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