The materials below are free for you to use and modify for your own classroom. Please do credit our scientists when you do so, though! And contact us if you have any questions or if you just want to chat about introducing this lesson to your classroom.

Curriculum Flow

We made substantial revisions to Methylothon’s curriculum in 2021 to adapt to both the needs of new partner schools and to the constraints of virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The materials that we’ve designed can be delivered on various timetables. Our partner schools typically followed the outline shown in the graphic below. For a more detailed sample lesson plan, please see this document.

Lesson 0: guest speaker

Materials for this unit vary depending on who the guest speaker is. Below are some ideas for pre-readings we have used for previous methylotroph-associated speakers. We suggest having students read some material pertaining to the guest’s work and asking them to generate questions ahead of time.

Lesson 1: Methylothon overview and Leaf Press Lab

  • Intro to Methylotrophs Lecture [Google Slides]
  • The Seek app by iNaturalist: an augmented-reality plant identification and exploration guide for Android or iPhone
  • “How to make a leaf press” video from the Martinez-Gomez Lab, UC Berkeley [mp4 download] – credit for video production: Katie Shalvarijan and Alekhya Govindaraju
  • Recipe to make Leaf Press Lab culture plates in your own lab [Google Doc]
  • Safety Data Sheet for cycloheximide (Thermo Fisher 2014) [PDF]
  • Leaf Press Lab handout [Google Doc]
  • Data upload forms – EXAMPLES ONLY

Lesson 2: Introduction to 16S rRNA and microbial phylogeny

Lesson 3: DNA sequencing

Lesson 4: Bacterial Identification virtual lab

Lesson 5: Bioinformatics Lab

Wrap-up exercises and final projects

For instructors who wish to end Methylothon with a final project, we recommend designing one specifically for your class that fits your style of instruction and helps to integrate the lesson into the rest of your curriculum. Below are two examples of group or individual write-ups assigned by teachers to prompt students to synthesize what they learned in the module.

  • A Team Quiz from an IB Biology class [Google Doc]
  • An Abstract-style writeup from a Biotechnology class [Google Doc]
  • A flexible-format final assignment combining Methylothon with human ancestry [Google Doc]

Resources from previous years (in-person instruction)

Methylothon in 2018 and 2019 included a field trip in which all students sampled plants together, and the isolation media used were slightly different from that used in 2021. Students conducted colony PCR in the classroom lab to amplify two different genes, and sent samples to a commercial facility for Sanger sequencing. The Bioinformatics Tutorial used the freely downloadable program MEGA, and students began work with chromatogram files.

  • Field sampling and isolation of methylotrophs: student handout [Google Doc]
  • Colony PCR to amplify 16S rRNA and rpoB genes from methylotroph isolates: student handout [Google Doc]
  • Bioinformatics tutorial using MEGA X: student handout [Google Doc]
  • MEGA (Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis): website for software download
  • DNA sequence chromatograms from the 16S rRNA gene, for practice
    • long read (~800 bp) [ab1]
    • short read (~300 bp) [ab1]
  • Files with reference DNA sequences for phylogeny
    • long read 16S rRNA gene [FASTA]
    • short read 16S rRNA gene [FASTA]
    • rpoB gene [FASTA]
  • In-class exercise on phylogenetic tree interpretation [Google Slides]
  • Slides for in-class exercise on understanding Multiple Sequence Alignment [Google Slides]
  • Final written assignment: example [Google Doc]
  • DNA sequence chromatogram files generated by students (see metadata spreadsheet)