p53: Maintaining Genome Integrity

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015 was awarded „for mechanistic studies of DNA repair“ (click here for further resources, choose popular information). p53 is a protein that acts as a quality control at the cell cycle’s G1 checkpoint; it can be regarded as one component of the ‚cellular toolbox‘ to maintain a cell’s genome integrity.

These resources are helpful supplements to our classroom activities/ studies:

How Tumor Suppressor Genes Block Cell Division

Control of the Cell Cycle

Cell Proliferation Signaling Pathway (Advanced)


Bio Q2: What is Evolution? What is NOT Evolution?

These three podcasts are taken from a series Evolution 101 by Zachary Moore, available on iTunes.

Listen to one of the podcasts and sum up the essential information on the questions. Then, get together in teams of three and discuss the biological dimensions of evolution. You make notes and can sum up your discussion in class.

What is Evolution?

What is not Evolution?

What is evidence against evolution?

Regulation of Gene Expression II (eukaryotes)

In this sequence, you’re going to work in different groups: exam writers and non-writers. Keep in mind that the objective for the end of this week is a) to describe different methods of pro- and eukaryotic protein synthesis control b) compare how prokaryotes and eukaryotes control protein synthesis.

Exam writers:

You obtain an overview of different methods of eukaryotic protein synthesis control based on the animations and their narratives below. On the side, add new information to your existing overview.

Non writers:

You each focus on one method in detail and can outline one method of eukaryotic protein synthesis control in a presentation.

Time available for independent learning: 30 minutes

Overview: Control of Gene Expression in Eukaryotes 

A Closer Look: Regulated Transcription

A Closer Look:mRNA Processing

A Closer Look: mRNA Splicing


Regulation of Gene Expression I (prokaryotes)

In 1961, French scientists François Jacob and Jacques Monod proposed the existence of messenger RNA and a model of gene regulation in E. coli, the operon model. They determined that the levels of lactose in the cell were linked to the regulation of the galactosidase gene (galactosidase is an enzyme involved in lactose breakdown).

After this independent learning session you’ll be able to compare and explain different gene regulation mechanisms found in prokaryotes.

Compete tasks 1,2 and 4 (last page on the handout) based on the print and online materials.

 This activity is scheduled for 90 minutes classroom time (Wednesday and Thursday) and 1 homework activity.

Virtual Cell Animation: The lac-operon

The lac-operon: Combination of switches.

The trp- repressor


Synaptic Transmission

Synapses communicate the signal transmitted by action potentials from one neuron to the next in neuronal pathways. In this individual learning exercise, you will explore the cellular processes occurring during the transmission of a signal at a synapse.

Work with a partner in this activity.

First, choose and study the given animations and narratives (easy  challenging).

Then, divide the process of synaptic transmission up into logical units and explain in detail what happens during each step.

The Chemical Synapse at McGraw Hill

Crossing the Divide; How Neurons Talk to Each Other at LearnGenetics, University of Utah

Synaptic Transmission at an online supplement of a medical textbook: Neuroscience


Die Bedrohung von heimischen Eschepopulationen durch eine invasive Pilzart

Ein Beitrag des WDR5 Wissenschaftsmagazins vom 1.6.2016 lautete „Auch die Esche stirbt weg – Aber es gibt Hoffnung“. Auf der Grundlage des Beitrags lässt sich die Arbeit zu ökologischen Auswirkungen invasiver Arten auf lokale Populationen zusammenfassen und vertiefen:

WDR5 Leonardo Podcast vom 1.6.2016 [hier klicken]

Aufgabe: Fasst die zentralen Aussagen der Artikel mit Blick auf die Folgen der biologischen Invasion von Arten auf heimische Ökosysteme stichpunktartig zusammen und tauscht euch anschließend mit einem Partner darüber aus; leitet anschließend gemeinsam auf Grundlage bisheriger Unterrichtsinhalte begründet Folgen für das Ökosystem ab (für Schnelle: diskutiert zusätzlich sinnvolle Maßnahmen zur Stabilisierung der Eschepopulationen und begründet diese aus ökologischer Perspektive).

Partner A (eher allgemein gehaltene Artikel): 

WN – Artikel: Bäumen geht es etwas besser 

Spektrum- Artikel: Der Weltenbaum vergeht

Partner B (Fachartikel): 

Waldwissen: Sorgenkind Esche. Stand der wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnis.

Invasive species and their consequences for ecosystems

Invasive species take hold outside their native range.You want to research about examples of invasive species and the consequences for the ecosystem in which they become established.


You research about different examples of invasive species and focus in detail on one local example (Münsterland) as well as on one ‚global‘ example. Explain the consequences for that given ecosystem.

You create an online mind map/cluster on your topic with bubble.us or mindmapfree to visualize your results in a sensible way. Export the mind map as an image and send it via E-Mail/ save on a memory stick.


You design and give a talk on invasive species and the consequences of invasive species for ecosystems (based on your mind map / cluster).


How does interspecific competition affect population growth?

G.F. Cause, a Russian scientist, formulated the competitive exclusion principle in a classic series of experiments in the 1930s: If two species are competing for the same resource, the species with a more rapid growth rate will outcompete the other. Consequently, two species can not occupy the same niche.

Bildschirmfoto 2016-04-24 um 21.11.39This virtual lab is a brilliant exercise in making and testing hypothesis as well as interpreting experimental data with regard to a hypothesis/ question.

Complete the virtual lab „Population Biology“ provided by McGraw Hill: follow the procedure on the left and answer the questions in the journal (bottom row).


A Tale of Two Foxes. The 2015 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 Grand title winner [click here] beat 42,000 entries to win the wildlife photography award.

I Background of the 2015 award

If you wrote the last biology exam, research and read about the background of the photo. All others study the last exam’s materials. Get together and take it in turns to sum up the essential information.

II Arctic Foxes and Red Foxes: Ecological Factors and Principles

Imagine you’ve been invited to support the photographer during the award ceremony with a 3-5 minute talk (a faq on how to give an academic talk can be found here -the first 4 pages sum up essenatial advice- and here: How to give a scientific talk). In your talk you would like to illustrate aspects of the biological background of the photo with special regard to ecological principles that apply here.

If you’re interested in further details and reading, follow these links:

Fact Sheet: Arctic Foxes and Climate Change

Arctic fox versus red fox in the warming arctic

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