Authors: Andrew McAuley, Marie de Gracia Coquerel, Sara Zollota, Patricia Perez, Ryan Husain, Caroline McMillan, Emily Miller, Jade Monteiro, Joana Nuraj, Julio Quinones, Jaciah Rashid, Sara Sutton, Justine Tryon, Jieli Wegerif, Marina Ascunce
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Marina Ascunce
College: College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
The Ants and Microbes Course Based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) is a way for students at UF to gain knowledge on molecular research procedures used in microbiome studies in a classroom setting. This course is centered around our own research on Ants and Microbes that we are bringing out to the classroom. Procedures like DNA extractions, PCRs, and gel electrophoresis were taught to the students as if they were in a real lab setting. The major focus in this class was the possible impacts of the Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA) on the microbial community of the soil in or surrounding their nests. To determine if RIFA colonies have any major impact on the surrounding soil, molecular laboratory procedures were done, and the resulting PCR products were sequenced. In addition to this molecular work, the students had the opportunity to gain better public speaking and communication skills by regularly giving presentations on papers relevant to the class and visiting scientists at the USDA center in Gainesville. Statistical skills were gained through the use of R, while development of teamwork attitudes was practiced through games and co-creative reflective projects.