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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #298677

Research Project: Disease Resistance Signaling in Cereal Crops

Location: Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research

Title: iTAG Barley: A 9-12 curriculum to explore inheritance of traits and genes using Oregon Wolfe barley

item HAYES, NICHOLAS - Kennedy High School
item MAFFIN, LANCE - Bondurant-Farrar High School
item MCGHEE, LAURIE - Colfax-Mingo High School
item HALL, GARRETT - South East Polk High School
item HUBBARD, TAYLOR - Ankeny High School
item WHIGHAM, EHREN - Iowa State University
item Wise, Roger

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/24/2013
Publication Date: 9/24/2013
Citation: Hayes, N., Maffin, L., McGhee, L., Hall, G., Hubbard, T., Whigham, E., Wise, R.P. 2013. iTAG Barley: A 9-12 curriculum to explore inheritance of traits and genes using Oregon Wolfe barley. iTunes. Available:

Interpretive Summary: One of the basic concepts in biology is that the outward appearance (or phenotype) of an organism is controlled by its DNA (or genotype). Yet, this connection between DNA and physical characteristic is not always made by young students. In the past three years, we have created a self-sustaining, inquiry-based curriculum comprising lab and classroom activities to help students make the connection from genotype to phenotype, which is the core foundation for modern genomics projects. High school teachers come to our lab for six weeks during the summer to train on the curriculum, as well as develop it further for subsequent years. The laboratory portion begins with students planting and growing barley plants so that phenotypic variation can be observed first hand. One trait in particular, the difference between “awned” and “hooded” plants, is the focus of the core Learning Module. The Learning Module also includes protocols for DNA extraction, polymerase chain reaction, and gel electrophoresis. Students get the opportunity to experience these fundamental biotechnology techniques, and the final results of the electrophoresis allow students to see the DNA polymorphisms among plants with different phenotypes. Kits comprising thermocyclers, microcentrifuges, pipetman, gel boxes, and reagents are provided to classrooms on a rotating basis. This outreach program integrates basic genetics with agriculture and human health using the easy-to-grow plant model, barley. These themes are the foundation for more complex genomic technologies, such as those used to address human and agricultural disease, thus, providing young researchers with the tools to advance science in the 21st century. To date, the iTAG Barley curriculum has been used successfully in thirty high school biology classes -- greater than 700 students, of which 50% were from underrepresented and underserved groups. We present a laboratory manual as a digital textbook (iTAG for iPAD), for use in high school and undergraduate instruction. iTAG Barley is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards, thus, can be adapted to any state standards. The Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program is funded by NSF.

Technical Abstract: Segregating plants from the Informative & Spectacular Subset (ISS) of the Oregon Wolfe doubled haploid barley (OWB) population are easily grown on a lighted window bench in the classroom. These lines originate from a wide cross and have exceptionally diverse and dramatic phenotypes, making this an ideal population for teaching concepts in plant development, phenotypic diversity, genetics, and/or genomics. iTAG Barley is aligned to the National Science Standards; thus, can be adapted to any state standards. Students observe the spikes for seed-coat color, 2-row vs. 6-row (encoded by Vrs, a domestication trait), hooded vs. non-hooded (Kap: encoded by BKn3 of the Knox gene family - a homoeotic mutation where the awn is replaced by another floret), and long awn vs. short awn (encoded by Lks1; epistatic to Kap); thus, gaining experience in phenotype observation. These phenotypes are then discussed in the context of developmental mutations, grain domestication, and cellular pathways. Students perform PCR of the Vrs and BKn3 genes using DNA they isolate from the segregating plants, and size fractionate the products on agarose gels. Inquiry based activities are used to present concepts of co-segregation of genes with biological phenotypes. Teachers conduct pre- and post-content based survey of iTAG concepts. Results of the assessment will be incorporated into publications and presented at NSTA and ASPB conferences.