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Classroom Resource
Molecular Genetics of Color Mutations in Rock Pocket Mice

Summary

A lesson that requires students to transcribe and translate portions of the wild-type and mutant rock pocket mouse Mc1r genes and compare sequences to identify the locations and types of mutations responsible for the coat color variation described in the film.

Appropriate for: high school biology (all levels), introductory college biology

This lesson serves as an extension to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute short film The Making of the Fittest: Natural Selection and Adaptation. Students will transcribe and translate portions of the wild-type and mutant rock pocket mouse Mc1r genes. By comparing DNA sequences, students identify the locations and types of mutations responsible for the coat-color change described in the film. Students will form a hypothesis to explain how a change in amino acid sequence affects the functionality of the MC1R protein, and how that change might directly affect the coat color of the rock pocket mouse populations.


Curriculum Connections:

NGSS (April 2013)
HS-LS1-1, HS-LS3-1, HS-LS3-2, HS-LS4-2, HS-LS4-4, HS-LS4-5, HS.LS1.A, HS.LS4.B,HS.LS4.C

Common Core (2010)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.4, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.7

AP Biology (2012–13)
1.A.1, 1.A.2, 3.A.1, 3.C.1, 4.B.1

IB Biology (2009)
3.5, 4.1, 4.3, 5.4, 7.3, 7.4, D.2, G.1


Supporting Materials (7)

Short Film
The rock pocket mouse is a living example of Darwin’s process of natural selection.
Film Guides
The following classroom-ready resources complement The Making of the Fittest: Natural Selection and Adaptation, which describes the physical and genetic evolutionary changes in rock pocket mouse populations.
Classroom Resource
A text transcript of the short film "Natural Selection and Adaptation" from the Making of the Fittest short film series.
Classroom Resource
An activity in which students analyze amino acid data and draw conclusions about the evolution of coat color phenotypes in different rock pocket mouse populations.
Classroom Resource
An advanced lesson that requires students to analyze partial DNA sequences of the Mc1r gene and identify the effects of mutations on the MC1R protein pathway.
Classroom Resource
A data collection and analysis lesson that examines selection for coat color in pocket mouse populations on different color substrates over time.
Classroom Resource
A lesson that uses real rock pocket mouse data collected by Dr. Michael Nachman and his colleagues to illustrate the Hardy-Weinberg principle.

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Additional Materials

Bulletin Article
Bulletin Article