Unit 1 of Bio2

INSTRUCTIONS

OVERVIEW:

This end-of-unit assignment asks you to:

  1. Draw connections amongst what you have learned in Unit 1 of Bio2 (from Lecture, Lab, and Activity), and
  2. Apply your knowledge to answer questions about cells and synthetic biology* [*described in “Background” section, below].

FORMAT:

Submit a Word document in which you answer each part of the “writing prompt” (below), in your own words. Please be sure to fully address all questions in the prompt, and explain your reasoning in …

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  • complete sentences,
  • 12-point font,
  • double-spaced,
  • and a minimum of 1000 words.
  • LIST your final word-count on the last line of your document.

Your document will be about ~2 pages long; the word-count (and clear, thoughtful, concise writing that addresses all parts of the 4 questions) are what matter most.

BRIEF BACKGROUND:

Synthetic biology is an area of active research in the life sciences that focuses on engineering and redesigning organisms/cells so that they have novel characteristics. Synthesized cells can be engineered to solve current problems facing society, in fields such as medicine, agriculture, or environmental sciences. [For example, information pathways of a cell(s) could be altered to make these cells especially efficient at building beneficial molecules or breaking down harmful molecules.]

WRITING PROMPT / 4 QUESTIONS:

Imagine that you are going to design a synthetic cell (that is, a cell you will make from scratch in the laboratory). Address why you would want to create a synthetic cell (meaning, “how could your synthetic cell’s functions help address a problem in society?”) in the context of the four questions below:

  1. At minimum, what structures or components would a synthetic cell need to be considered alive? (To help you to focus on essential structures and functions, you might want to start by thinking about structures that were present in all cells we studied.)
  2. Would you make your cell more similar to a prokaryote or eukaryote?
    1. Explain your reasoning for this choice.
    2. Be sure to describe which social problem your synthetic cell will address, and how.
    3. (NOTE: It is possible to provide strong reasoning for either choice, depending on which social problem / application you choose.)
  3. What ingredients would you include in your synthetic cell? (Describe building blocks, such as small molecules and macromolecules).
  4. How do your ingredients from Question #3 associate with each other to build functional cell machinery?

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