The CURE for Cultivating Fastidious Microbes

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Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) expand the scientific educational benefits of research to large groups of students in a course setting. As part of an ongoing effort to integrate CUREs into first-year biology labs, we developed a microbiology CURE (mCURE) that uses a modified dilution-to-extinction high throughput culturing protocol for isolating abundant yet fastidious aquatic bacterioplankton during one semester. Students learn common molecular biology techniques like nucleic acid extraction, PCR, and molecular characterization; read and evaluate scientific literature; and receive training in scientific communication through written and oral exercises that incorporate social media elements. In the first three semesters, the mCUREs achieved similar cultivability success as implementation of the protocol in a standard laboratory setting. Our modular framework facilitates customization of the curriculum for use in multiple settings and we provide classroom exercises, assignments, assessment tools, and examples of student output to assist with implementation.

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Journal of microbiology & biology education

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