This project was prepared as part of a BioQUEST faculty development workshop entitled PEER Workshop: Using Bioinformatics in Biological Problem Solving at SCALE-IT, NIMBIOS in August 2009. The BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium is committed to the reform of undergraduate biology instruction through an emphasis on engaging students in realistic scientific practices. This approach is sometimes characterized as an inquiry driven approach and is captured in BioQUEST's three P's (problem-posing, problem-solving, and peer-persuasion). As part of this workshop groups of faculty were encouraged to initiate innovative curricular projects. We are sharing these works in progress in the hope that they will stimulate further exploration, collaboration and development. Please see the following links for additional information:

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A Bioquest Project: August 2009 Solving the Limitations of Endospore Breakdown by Beta-Amylase in Barley Plants to make Beer
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Possible Audiences:

Biology students, Bioquest participants  


Brief Overview:

Research Problem: Our assignment is to think like a plant biologist and suggest a research plan for improving maltose production via barley plant genetics. Backround: The starch rich endospores of barley plants are broken down by their native beta-amylase into maltose sugar. The availabilty of this sugar for yeast’s metabolsm is a limiting factor for the beer brewing process.1 Solution: An alpha-amylase from the fungus Penicillium expansum has been shown to produce maltose at signicantly increased levels to other known amylases, as high as 70% conversion. Transfter of this P. expansum a-amylase gene into the barley plant would theoretically increase the maltose yield by allowing the continued expression of native beta-amylase and the additonal expression of P. expansum a-amylase. 2 Procedures: 1. Cloning of P. expansum a-amylase gene into a gene-transfering bacteria. 2. Transfer of P. expansum a-amylase into barley plant. 3. Experimental validation of increased maltose production in successfully transferred P. expansum a-amylase. 4. Patent seeds and make $$$ from barley farmers :p  


Resources and References:

References: 1. Ethel D. Stanley and Keith D. Stanley. “Looking into Glycosidases: A Bioinformatics Resource for Biology Students.” Version 1.2 (8/1/2000). Modified (8/5/2009). 2009. 8/6/2009. 2. Evelyn M. Doyle, Catherine T. Kelly, and William M. Fogarty. “The high maltose-producing a-amylase of Penicillium expansu.” Appl Microbiol Biotechnol (1989) 30:492-496.