Molecular Core Facility Integrated Into Curriculum

The Molecular Core Facility (MCF) located in room 210 at the Grice Marine Laboratory provides Molecular Biology services that support onsite research and varying curriculum needs here at the College of Charleston. One class in particular, Dr. Erik Sotka’s Marine Molecular Ecology Course (Bio 503), become regular visitors to the MCF throughout the Spring semester. The goal of the course is to introduce graduate level students to the genetic tools that can be applied to a wide variety of ecological topics. This semester projects included identifying cryptic species of Blackbelly Rosefish (Helicolenus dactylopterus), determining the primary reproductive mode (asexual vs. sexual) of the invasive alga Gracilaria vermiculophylla, and quantifying the degree of genetic differentiation among populations of the tropical reef-building coral Porites asteroides and the mudflat periwinkle Illyanassa obtusa. The students became proficient on several instruments within the MCF including a thermocycler and a digital imagining system as their projects progressed. Additionally, they received demonstrations and personal reviews of their DNA sequencing, microsatellite, and applied fragment length polymorphism data as it was generated by the Genetic Analysis System housed at the MCF. Results from these projects have spurred several individuals to continue their working relationship with the MCF in regards to their thesis research and additional side projects.

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