Here we describe an undergraduate microbiology laboratory exercise that examines differences between an anthropogenic and a natural soil microbial community. These two microbiological communities were analyzed using community level physiological profiling, a quantitative method for describing the microbial composition of the bacterial community using carbon source utilization. Specifically, Biolog EcoPlate Microplates were used to determine quantitatively the use of 31 different carbon sources for oxidative respiration by each community. Carbon source utilization was compared between communities and within communities using univariate statistical techniques. The utility of this exercise in teaching how statistical analysis is informative in the biological sciences is discussed, as well as strategies to include a range of statistical analysis from descriptive and univariate techniques to multivariate approaches.
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