Introduction to Gene Mining Part A: BLASTn-off!


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Do plants have versions of human genes?

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ID Number:101
Learning Objective:

After completing this lesson, Part A, Students will be able to: Provide examples of biological models and state why they are useful. List characteristics of Arabidopsis thaliana that make it a useful model organism. Use OMIM to find information about a genetic disease. Explain why bioinformatics tools are needed to analyze large data sets. Find information about a gene of interest on NCBI including FASTA sequence and function. Perform a BLASTn comparison and identify the result with highest similarity using E-value, scores, % query, graphics, description, and alignment results.

Author:Andrea Cobb, Ph.D.
Materials Needed:Computers with internet access (students may work individually or in pairs)
Recommended Level:9-12, College Level



In this lesson, students will utilize bioinformatics tools and concepts to propose a plant model that might prove useful in studying a human genetic disease. In Part A, students Engage prior knowledge of genetics and human diseases using the Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man portal ( to identify a sample gene which has a role in a human disease. They will briefly write to expose their preconceptions of scientific models and of processes which are common to both plants and humans. They next Explore using bioinformatics tools. Students will find information about the sample human disease gene from the portal. Students will use the BLASTn tool to align the human gene DNA sequence with Arabidopsis thaliana DNA sequences in order to identify names of prospective plant versions of the human gene. They will learn to decipher the BLASTn report results in order to identify the most

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