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Microbial Genetics Construction Kit (µGCK)

John N. Calley (University of Arizona), and
John R. Jungck (Beloit College)
Screen Shots | System Requirements

Microbial Genetics Construction Kit is a simulation of a microbial genetics laboratory. It provides you with a set of unknown bacteria on a petri plate or in a test tube. You can then investigate many of the characteristics of these bacteria using tools similar to those used in a real laboratory: serial dilution, phenotype identification, complementation testing, and conjugation mapping.

µGCK is not meant to replace work with real organisms. But the constraints of time, space, money, and unskilled laboratory technique, important parts of real scientific research, make it practically impossible for most students to experience the excitement and challenge of a real research problem. µGCK can give you the chance to work with problems that have the real surprise and real complexity that make scientific research a fascinating activity.

A µGCK problem starts with a field collection of bacteria, either in a test tube or plated onto a petri plate. Each of the gray circles on the plate represents one colony. The idea is that the colonies shown on the plate were grown from bacteria collected from the field. The colonies are of unknown genotype and phenotype, although all bacteria within a colony share a genotype and phenotype.

µGCK includes several tools to help organize and analyze the data that are collected during an experiment. The Media Matrix window displays the media used by all current plates and tubes; phenotype worksheets record the phenotypes of colonies; complementation worksheets record the complementation behavior of a plate's colonies. The figure below illustrates a completed phenotype worksheet.

µGCK comes with several predefined problems designed to present a different aspect of microbial genetics or to illustrate a particular problem. In addition, using the problem editing utility, it is possible to customize a problem to meet your specific needs. Among the parameters which can be set are the number of genetically distinct strains that will be represented in the field population, the number of markers allowed per cell (a marker in this case is auxotrophy for nutrients or resistance for antibiotics), the distribution of the F plasmid, the length of the bacterial chromosome in minutes, the number of cistrons per marker, and many others.


Screen Shots

A field collection of bacteria, in a test tube or
plated onto a petri plate.

A filled-in and locked phenotype worksheet with a plasmid row.


System Requirements

Macintosh or Power Macintosh

  • System 6.07 or later; System 7.1 or later for PowerMacintosh.
  • At least 800K of available RAM.

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