Teaching and learning
Teaching and Learning
This is the hub for #ActinoBase teaching and learning resources: educational content, outreach, and more! We welcome contributions from the community, so please contact us with any suggestions or if you would like to contribute content to these pages.
Practical protocols (undergrad labs)
Undergraduate student projects
- SEA-PHAGES, an HHMI undergraduate course featuring the discovery and isolation of actinobacteriophages
- the Strathclyde VIP Drug Discovery Project, using hyperspectral imaging to screen for novel antibiotic producers
Spotlight: teaching antibiotics & AMR
Are you looking for videos to use in your courses, inspiration for classroom or workshop activities, or other resources to help you with your teaching? Please check out our collection of Teaching and Learning Resources: Antibiotics and AMR.
Other teaching and learning resources
- Microbiology Society resources for teachers
- Microbiology Society resources for students
- the American Society for Microbiology's resource library
- Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education
- Small Things Considered: Teacher's Corner
Outreach Events Calendar
If you would like to use ActinoBase for a wiki creation/editing assignment as part of a course or workshop, please contact us.
- Microbe Talk
- This Week in Microbiology
- Meet the Microbiologist
- Natural Prodcast
The range of colored pigments produced by different actinobacteria, coupled with their tendency for non-lateral growth, make them suitable for creating biological art. Creating and observing biological art can be used as a vehicle to engage people with diverse backgrounds and interests in both concepts and techniques related to chemistry and biology.1
“Agar art” has been shown to be an effective method for increasing confidence in students being introduced to microbiology.2 Similarly, as long as proper sterile conditions are available, creating art using Streptomyces has been an engaging activity for introducing high school students to microbiology and working with elementary school populations. BioArt employing actinobacteria can therefore be used to introduce both younger students and artists to science, including those from traditionally marginalized identities in STEM.3
The following strains are streaked, using sterile technique, on R5 media in order to “draw” with their pigments. The strains can also be streaked on a modified, less expensive media using food-grade agar and/or chicken broth. Pigments appear after 3-7 days of growth.1 All Streptomyces strains are classified as Biosafety Level 1 (BSL-1) organisms, and are of minimal hazard to humans.4
- Streptomyces coelicolor (Blue, Red under acidic conditions)
- Streptomyces violaceoruber (Purple, Pink under acidic conditions)
- Streptomyces roseofulvus (Yellow)
The colored pigments can also be extracted, dried, and resuspended in acrylic to produce bio-based paint.
Using standard 100 mm petri dishes allows for smaller-scale activities, which is often preferable when introducing proper bacterial streaking technique so that participants can create multiple pieces of art. However, using larger plates allows experienced artists to create much more detailed and intricate drawings.
The characteristic colored pigments produced by actinobacterial strains enable concurrent learning opportunities about molecular color and natural products. While leading or introducing the activity, participants may be interested to learn that biosynthesized molecules are responsible for the drawing’s vibrant color and that these molecules can have antibiotic and anticancer properties.
1. Charkoudian, L.K., Fitzgerald, J.T., Khosla, C., Champlin, A., 2010. In Living Color: Bacterial Pigments as an Untapped Resource in the Classroom and Beyond. PLoS Biol 8, e1000510. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1000510
2. Adkins, S.J., Rock, R.K., Morris, J.J., 2018. Interdisciplinary STEM education reform: dishing out art in a microbiology laboratory. FEMS Microbiology Letters 365. https://doi.org/10.1093/femsle/fnx245
3. Lopes, L.E., Waldis, S.J., Terrell, S.M., Lindgren, K.A., Charkoudian, L.K., 2018. Vibrant symbiosis: Achieving reciprocal science outreach through biological art. PLoS Biol 16, e3000061. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3000061
4. Shepherd, M.D., Kharel, M.K., Bosserman, M.A., Rohr, J., 2010. Laboratory Maintenance of Streptomyces Species. Current Protocols in Microbiology 18. https://doi.org/10.1002/9780471729259.mc10e01s18