Biotechnology Basics – Using BactoBeads™

NEWS_2.1.17_BactoBeads_Fig2What are BactoBeads™?

BactoBeads™ are non-pathogenic, freeze-dried microbes (bacteria and lower eukaryotes) that are easily cultured for use in the classroom.  Each bead contains microorganisms, buffer, salts and nutrient broth in an instantly soluble pellet. 

What is so special about BactoBeads™?

  1. BactoBeads™ are easy to ship to your school and store in your classroom.  
  2. BactoBeads™ are stable for a full school year, unlike perishable slants and plates that spoil in 3-5 days.
  3. BactoBeads™ are instantly soluble in water, Luria Broth or any other microbial growth medium.  
  4. Since BactoBeads™ can be stored in the refrigerator, there is no requirement for a freezer. 

How do I culture microorganisms in my classroom?NEWS_2.1.17_BactoBeads_Thumb

First, the microbiological culture media (either liquid or solid) is prepared.  The culture medium provides all of the water, food, vitamins and minerals required for microbial growth.  It is sterilized to prevent the growth of unwanted microbes. After the sterile culture medium is inoculated, the culture incubated overnight to allow for cellular growth and division.  

Liquid media is used to grow large numbers of microorganisms for plasmid or recombinant protein purification.  One BactoBead™ can be used to inoculate 10 – 1000 mL of a liquid culture medium (like Luria Broth).  The culture is incubated overnight at a temperature appropriate for the microbe (usually 30°C – 37°C).  

Solid media is used to isolate single cells.  When the microbes are plated on a solid surface, each cell gives rise to a visible mass of cells called a colony.  A single BactoBead™ is carefully streaked across a nutrient agar plate to produce individual colonies.  The culture is incubated overnight at a temperature appropriate for the microbe (usually 30°C – 37°C).

BactoBeads™ are included in many of our kits at no additional cost!  

  • Transformation of E. coli with Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP):
    • In this experiment, students will explore the biological process of bacterial transformation using E. coli and plasmid DNA. At the end of the activity, students will have experience observing and analyzing acquired traits (ampicillin resistance and fluorescence) as exhibited by transformed bacterial cells
  • Rainbow Transformation:
    • In this colorful experiment, students will explore the biological process of bacterial transformation using vibrant chromogenic proteins. Students will use three recombinant plasmids to transform E.coli bacteria. The resulting E.coli will be examined for the presence of blue, purple, and pink pigments, as well as for resistance to ampicillin. Features our new enhanced transformation protocol for improved student results.
  • Investigating Synthetic Biology
    • Teach your students about synthetic biology with this exciting and exclusive lab! Students use PCR to amplify the coding sequence of the BSMT1 enzyme, which creates a chemical with a strong “wintergreen” odor. The PCR product is purified, restriction digested, and inserted into a plasmid vector. The resulting recombinant DNA is then used to transform E. coli BactoBeads™. Finally, students perform a smell test to confirm that the bacterial factories are working!
  • Identification and Characterization of Bacteria
    • Gram staining is a quick, effective, and medically relevant identification test that has become one of the most essential tools in bacterial classification. In this experiment, students will use this staining technique to examine the size, shape, arrangement, and gram status (+/-) of Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis, and Micrococcus luteus.

For more inspiration, check out our

Edvotek QuickGuide™ —

Edvotek Instructional Video –


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