Tomatoes and Genetic Research

Tomatoes and Genetic Research


We decided to come
to local high schools to give both the students in
the public schools, as well as the Wake Forest
students, an opportunity to learn things about genetics
and genetically modified organisms. We know that schools
cover genetics already, but we decided that it would
be a memorable experience to bring purple
tomatoes to the school so that they could see an
example of genetic inheritance. The students in the
schools also, we want them to understand what
genetically modified organisms or GMOs are. We hear a lot about that in the
news and in the grocery store, and we all have to make
a decision whether we want to buy these or not. And so we wanted to bring
the science behind how they’re made to the schools. We start by talking
about drought which is affecting one of
our major states, California, where a lot of our crop
production comes from. And then, we move
into a scenario where we have these
purple mutant tomatoes and these red tomatoes that
are normal red tomatoes. The purple ones [? have ?] been
shown to be slightly drought resistant. We look at their
root systems and see that they have more roots. From this scenario,
we teach them about the genetics,
Punnett squares. We go over dye hybrid crosses. And we end by telling
them about genetically modified organisms and exactly
how we genetically modified these organisms. This is material
that they’re also learning about in their bio
101 class so by teaching it, we’re hoping that it’ll give
them a better understanding. But it also allows
us to interact with the community
around Wake Forest and to be more involved
in the community, and gives them a
chance to volunteer at local high schools. This is also good for
the Wake Forest students because they’ve learned
these things in their class and now they’re having
a chance to learn even better through
teaching other students. And so explaining basic
genetic inheritance and GMOs and really putting
this all together is a great experience for them.

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