Improved student linkage of mendelian and molecular genetic concepts through a yeast-based laboratory module


Address for correspondence to: Michael J. Wolyniak Department of Biology, Hampden-Sydney College, Hampden-Sydney, Virginia 23943. E-mail:


A study of modern genetics requires students to successfully unite the principles of Mendelian genetics with the functions of DNA. Traditional means of teaching genetics are often successful in teaching Mendelian and molecular ideas but not in allowing students to see how the two subjects relate. The laboratory module presented here attempts to present classical and molecular genetic concepts together as an inquiry-based exploration appropriate for high school or introductory undergraduate students. Using the non-essential APQ12 gene in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, students perform PCR, selective growth, and sporulation experiments to establish the ploidy and APQ12 zygosity of a series of unknown strains. Each experiment contributes data to characterize the unknown strains, but complete characterization is not possible without assimilating the data from all of the experiments. The module allows students to consider concepts normally introduced and emphasized in Mendelian genetics and explore them using molecular and experimental tools. Comparison of pre-module and post-module assessment surveys show an increase in student ability to link Mendelian concepts to experimental procedures relying on DNA analysis. The development of modules such as these provides students of all backgrounds with the tools to engage the complexities and issues that constitute modern principles of inheritance. © 2013 by The International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 41(3):163–172, 2013