Students at Dayton High School are taking advantage of GEAR UP support to join a community of scientists in documenting a digital registry of California bee species using a DNA barcoding system.

For animals such as bees, a DNA barcode represents a record of the bee’s genetic fingerprint.  Based on this barcode fingerprint, the bee species can be cataloged and information of the bee population’s ecological condition can be followed more efficiently than when using methods previously used.  

Dayton High School students are involved in the barcoding project by using biotechnology methods to extract and purify the bee DNA, amplify a short segment of targeted DNA using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and verify the success of the work using DNA gel electrophoresis.  The DNA product will be sent away for DNA sequencing, with the DNA sequence then returned to DHS for students to upload to the Barcode of Life Database (BOLD).  Each of these procedures are commonly found in research and industry biotechnology labs.  Through participation in the barcoding project, Dayton high school students gain valuable experience in biotechnology practices, learn complex molecular life science topics, and develop an awareness for the efforts underway to save diminishing diversity in species such as bees.

“I’m very proud of the students from Dayton High School for being able to perform such a high level, relevant application of biotechnology even though we are far removed from any biotech research lab or industry, said Doug Yenney, science teacher at Dayton High School.  “I am amazed at what these students can do in the biotechnology lab”. 

This is the third year of DNA barcoding for DHS and this year’s project will continue into the spring of this school year.