The Students: Amanda Boxleitner, Katey Irwin, and Corrine Stevens

The Teacher:
Clinton A. Kennedy

Our Project, The Microbiology of Thermus Aquaticus began in August of 1998. Three girls asked themselves a question, "I wonder if the bacteria, Thermus Aquaticus, found in our hot springs is the same as the Thermus found around the world." This question was extremely important because if the conclusion was that the bacteria was unique, it would be like witnessing evolution in process. And if the evidence concluded that it was genetically identical, then the migration of this thermophile would very intriguing. With this in mind they set out determining how to investigate this.

As one can imagine it takes a lot of financial assistance to begin and maintain such a project. There are expenses for equipment and equipment repair, consumable items, such as sterile pipettes and tips, and most importantly chemicals for lysing as well as PCR and culturing. The costs can add up to a considerable amount. In order to both maintain and continue with such a project we went to the Federal Government and our district for financial assistance.

The purpose of our project is to determine whether or not the Thermus Aquaticus, found in our own Vulcan Hotsprings, is genetically unique to Thermus Aquaticus found around the world. Because of the extream conditions that the bacteria live in, their migration from one hotsprings to another would be nearly impossible. If our sample was geneticly unique, it is possible that we would be able to observe evolution in process, and if not could investigate how these bacteria do indeed migrate.

After returning home from INEEL there was much to be done. Samples needed to be collected from Vulcan Hot Springs, culturing must be started and mastered, protocols and proceedures must be made and tested, Thermus cells have to be lysed, and DNA from the cells must be purified and sequenced. Each of these tasks presents a new and different set of problems. During the 1999-2000 school year we have accomplished only three of the above listed goals, yet this represents an enormous amout of work and problem solving. Thus far we have sucessfully taken samples from Vulcan Hotsprings, cultured Thermus Aquaticus and researched and tested protocols to sucessfully lyse the Thermus Aquaticus cells. At this time we are still looking for the most sucessful and efficeint method for lysing Thermus Aquaticus.

In the coming summer of 2000, we intend to finish the project by successfully lysing the T. Aquaticus cells and preparing the DNA of these cells for sequencing through PCR and purification. We have formed a collaboration with Dr. Carol Lauzon of the University of California in order to sequence our samples. As a conclusion we are going to formulate a paper and a presentation. Both of which will be presented and the National Science Teachers Convention, the Utah Symposium, and the INTEL Science and Talent Search.

For More Information on this Project See:

The Microbiology of Thermust Aquaticus I

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