To help us with our understanding of the topic of Manipulating Genomes we were lucky enough to be able to spend a day at the Baylab in Reading.

We were able to deepen our academic learning by performing different analytical techniques.

We took part in a workshop aimed at comparing our phenotype (physical characteristic that is represented) with our genotype (a genetic characteristic). The gene we were testing for was PTC, which is a tasting gene.

The test started by putting a paper strip that contained a substance of the gene on it in our mouths and we scored how much we could taste it from 0 to 5. Some of us found it to be very strong and bitter whereas others couldn’t taste anything.

The results from this gave us our phenotype.

To investigate our genotype, we had to take a sample of our cheek cells from our own saliva and add different chemicals so that we could analyse it.

To do the analysis we used PCR and electrophoresis, which are two techniques that we had learnt about in our lessons. It was so interesting to be able to perform them ourselves in a lab.

The results from the electrophoresis gave us different bands of data which we could analyse ourselves to find out if our phenotype and genotype matched. The group had a range of results and it was exciting to find out if the gene was expressed in us.

The visit was a very good way to revise as we could actually perform the techniques we had been learning about ourselves.

It also gave us a good opportunity to see what sort of lab work we could be doing at university or in a job if we chose to go down the Biology career path beyond Bradfield.