The photosynthetic bioreactor research program is a training platform appropriate for introducing advanced molecular biology techniques to undergraduate students and advanced high school biology students. For this advanced molecular biology training exercise, the enzyme carbonic anhydrase was cloned, over-expressed, purified, and functionally characterized. Carbonic anhydrases are industrially important enzymes with potential use in carbon sequestration and biofuel production. Alpha and beta carbonic anhydrases from Photobacterium profundum, a psychrophilic, halotolerant bacterium, were characterized in this study. Carbonic anhydrases that can withstand high salinity and are active at low temperatures can be transformed into oleaginous marine microalgae to enhance biofuel production. Our research program started with a three-day boot camp with lectures in relevant topics of molecular biology, microbiology, and research methods. After the boot camp, the lab phase of the project involved training students to perform polymerase chain reaction, DNA gel electrophoresis, DNA ligation, and bacterial transformation. In the final phase of the project, students were trained in recombinant protein over-expression and protein purification techniques. Here we report successful cloning and over-expression by high school students of two novel carbonic anhydrases from a psychrohalophile with application in biofuel production.
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Vol. 80 • No. 1