A Question of Taste
This popular, lab-based workshop turns theory into practice by using one of the most revolutionary biochemical technologies - the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) - to explore an unusual human trait. Using DNA extraction, PCR techniques and gel electrophoresis, students determine their own genotype in relation to the bitter-tasting chemical PTC (phenylthiocarbamide). The possible evolutionary significance of this characteristic is discussed, along with the broader social, medical and ethical implications of gene technology
In addition to the specific content of PCR and its applications, the day covers many areas common to all AS and A level specifications, including the structure and function of DNA, eukaryotic cell structure and enzyme function, genes, alleles and monohybrid inheritance, mutation and evolution. The debate section examines the social and ethical issues surrounding screening for genetic conditions, with the opportunity for students to discuss and debate their views on the scenarios provided.