Biology is everywhere - you just have to look
An effective biology course can give students a new way to look at the world around them. Photography is a very useful tool in pushing them to literally see their surroundings through a different perspective. Digital cameras, disposable point-and-shoots, and camera phones make it easy for students to take and transmit images. Sending them out to ponder and photograph animals and plants adds a do-it-yourself but still directed field trip experience to an online course.
There are several different approaches that work well. One is to give the students a topic and send them out to find images that illuminate it. You might give them broad themes like photosynthesis or competition or plant succession. Or have them choose an environmental challenge like attracting mates or coping with drought and then document the strategies used by a few different species to solve the problem. Each photo or set of photos should be accompanied by a write up that explains the biology involved. Chose the assignments carefully, so that students have to really look at their surroundings and think through what they’ve learned in the course. Otherwise it just becomes a digital version of the dreaded 6th grade leaf collection.
On the other hand, a photographic show and tell can be a good way to get students talking to one another, and about biologic topics. Have a class upload photos of their pets to start a group discussion on artificial versus natural selection or the adaptive value of cuteness. Get them to post pictures of their lunch as a starting point to describe energy flow through ecosystems or debate the production and labeling of genetically modified organisms. Ask them to photograph their favorite outdoor spaces as a springboard to evaluating the value of wilderness and open space, or their sense of place in the natural world.
PROBLEM #1. You have sampled a population in which you know that the percentage of the homozygous recessive genotype (aa) is 36%. Using that 36%, calculate the following:
- The frequency of the "aa" genotype. Answer: 36%, as given in the problem itself.
- The frequency of the "a" allele. Answer: The frequency of aa is 36%, which means that q2 = 0.36, by definition. If q2 = 0.36, then q = 0.6, again by definition. Since q equals the frequency of the a allele, then the frequency is 60%.
- The frequency of the "A" allele. Answer: Since q = 0.6, and p + q = 1, then p = 0.4; the frequency of A is by definition equal to p, so the answer is 40%.
- The frequencies of the genotypes "AA" and "Aa." Answer: The frequency of AA is equal to p2, and the frequency of Aa is equal to 2pq. So, using the information above, the frequency of AA is 16% (i.e. p2 is 0.4 x 0.4 = 0.16) and Aa is 48% (2pq = 2 x 0.4 x 0.6 = 0.48).
- The frequencies of the two possible phenotypes if "A" is completely dominant over "a." Answers: Because "A" is totally dominate over "a", the dominant phenotype will show if either the homozygous "AA" or heterozygous "Aa" genotypes occur. The recessive phenotype is controlled by the homozygous aa genotype. Therefore, the frequency of the dominant phenotype equals the sum of the frequencies of AA and Aa, and the recessive phenotype is simply the frequency of aa. Therefore, the dominant frequency is 64% and, in the first part of this question above, you have already shown that the recessive frequency is 36%.
PROBLEM #2. Sickle-cell anemia is an interesting genetic disease. Normal homozygous individials (SS) have normal blood cells that are easily infected with the malarial parasite. Thus, many of these individuals become very ill from the parasite and many die. Individuals homozygous for the sickle-cell trait (ss) have red blood cells that readily collapse when deoxygenated. Although malaria cannot grow in these red blood cells, individuals often die because of the genetic defect. However, individuals with the heterozygous condition (Ss) have some sickling of red blood cells, but generally not enough to cause mortality. In addition, malaria cannot survive well within these "partially defective" red blood cells. Thus, heterozygotes tend to survive better than either of the homozygous conditions. If 9% of an African population is born with a severe form of sickle-cell anemia (ss), what percentage of the population will be more resistant to malaria because they are heterozygous (Ss) for the sickle-cell gene? Answer: 9% =.09 = ss = q2. To find q, simply take the square root of 0.09 to get 0.3. Since p = 1 – 0.3, then p must equal 0.7. 2pq = 2 (0.7 x 0.3) = 0.42 = 42% of the population are heterozygotes (carriers).
PROBLEM #3. There are 100 students in a class. Ninety-six did well in the course whereas four blew it totally and received a grade of F. Sorry. In the highly unlikely event that these traits are genetic rather than environmental, if these traits involve dominant and recessive alleles, and if the four (4%) represent the frequency of the homozygous recessive condition, please calculate the following:
- The frequency of the recessive allele. Answer: Since we believe that the homozygous recessive for this gene (q2) represents 4% (i.e. = 0.04), the square root (q) is 0.2 (20%).
- The frequency of the dominant allele. Answer: Since q = 0.2, and p + q = 1, then p = 0.8 (80%).
- The frequency of heterozygous individuals. Answer: The frequency of heterozygous individuals is equal to 2pq. In this case, 2pq equals 0.32, which means that the frequency of individuals heterozygous for this gene is equal to 32% (i.e. 2 (0.8)(0.2) = 0.32).
PROBLEM #4. Within a population of butterflies, the color brown (B) is dominant over the color white (b). And, 40% of all butterflies are white. Given this simple information, which is something that is very likely to be on an exam, calculate the following:
- The percentage of butterflies in the population that are heterozygous.
- The frequency of homozygous dominant individuals. Answers: The first thing you’ll need to do is obtain p and q. So, since white is recessive (i.e. bb), and 40% of the butterflies are white, then bb = q2 = 0.4. To determine q, which is the frequency of the recessive allele in the population, simply take the square root of q2 which works out to be 0.632 (i.e. 0.632 x 0.632 = 0.4). So, q = 0.63. Since p + q = 1, then p must be 1 – 0.63 = 0.37. Now then, to answer our questions. First, what is the percentage of butterflies in the population that are heterozygous? Well, that would be 2pq so the answer is 2 (0.37) (0.63) = 0.47. Second, what is the frequency of homozygous dominant individuals? That would be p2 or (0.37)2 = 0.14.
PROBLEM #5. A rather large population of Biology instructors have 396 red-sided individuals and 557 tan-sided individuals. Assume that red is totally recessive. Please calculate the following:
- The allele frequencies of each allele. Answer: Well, before you start, note that the allelic frequencies are p and q, and be sure to note that we don’t have nice round numbers and the total number of individuals counted is 396 + 557 = 953. So, the recessive individuals are all red (q2) and 396/953 = 0.416. Therefore, q (the square root of q2) is 0.645. Since p + q = 1, then p must equal 1 – 0.645 = 0.355.
- The expected genotype frequencies. Answer: Well, AA = p2 = (0.355)2 = 0.126; Aa = 2(p)(q) = 2(0.355)(0.645) = 0.458; and finally aa = q2 = (0.645)2 = 0.416 (you already knew this from part A above).
- The number of heterozygous individuals that you would predict to be in this population. Answer: That would be 0.458 x 953 = about 436.
- The expected phenotype frequencies. Answer: Well, the "A" phenotype = 0.126 + 0.458 = 0.584 and the "a" phenotype = 0.416 (you already knew this from part A above).
- Conditions happen to be really good this year for breeding and next year there are 1,245 young "potential" Biology instructors. Assuming that all of the Hardy-Weinberg conditions are met, how many of these would you expect to be red-sided and how many tan-sided? Answer: Simply put, The "A" phenotype = 0.584 x 1,245 = 727 tan-sided and the "a" phenotype = 0.416 x 1,245 = 518 red-sided ( or 1,245 – 727 = 518).
PROBLEM #6. A very large population of randomly-mating laboratory mice contains 35% white mice. White coloring is caused by the double recessive genotype, "aa". Calculate allelic and genotypic frequencies for this population. Answer: 35% are white mice, which = 0.35 and represents the frequency of the aa genotype (or q2). The square root of 0.35 is 0.59, which equals q. Since p = 1 – q then 1 – 0.59 = 0.41. Now that we know the frequency of each allele, we can calculate the frequency of the remaining genotypes in the population (AA and Aa individuals). AA = p2 = 0.41 x 0.41 = 0.17; Aa = 2pq = 2 (0.59) (0.41) = 0.48; and as before aa = q2 = 0.59 x 0.59 = 0.35. If you add up all these genotype frequencies, they should equal 1.
PROBLEM #7. After graduation, you and 19 of your closest friends (lets say 10 males and 10 females) charter a plane to go on a round-the-world tour. Unfortunately, you all crash land (safely) on a deserted island. No one finds you and you start a new population totally isolated from the rest of the world. Two of your friends carry (i.e. are heterozygous for) the recessive cystic fibrosis allele (c). Assuming that the frequency of this allele does not change as the population grows, what will be the incidence of cystic fibrosis on your island? Answer: There are 40 total alleles in the 20 people of which 2 alleles are for cystic fibrous. So, 2/40 = .05 (5%) of the alleles are for cystic fibrosis. That represents p. Thus, cc or p2 = (.05)2 = 0.0025 or 0.25% of the F1 population will be born with cystic fibrosis.
PROBLEM #8. You sample 1,000 individuals from a large population for the MN blood group, which can easily be measured since co-dominance is involved (i.e., you can detect the heterozygotes). They are typed accordingly:
|BLOOD TYPE||GENOTYPE||NUMBER OF INDIVIDUALS||RESULTING FREQUENCY|
Using the data provide above, calculate the following:
- The frequency of each allele in the population. Answer: Since MM = p2, MN = 2pq, and NN = q2, then p (the frequency of the M allele) must be the square root of 0.49, which is 0.7. Since q = 1 – p, then q must equal 0.3.
- Supposing the matings are random, the frequencies of the matings. Answer: This is a little harder to figure out. Try setting up a "Punnett square" type arrangement using the 3 genotypes and multiplying the numbers in a manner something like this:
Note that three of the six possible crosses are unique (*), but that the other three occur twice (i.e. the probabilities of matings occurring between these genotypes is TWICE that of the other three "unique" combinations. Thus, three of the possibilities must be doubled. MM x MM = 0.49 x 0.49 = 0.2401 MM (0.49) MN (0.42) NN (0.09) MM (0.49) 0.2401* 0.2058 0.0441 MN (0.42) 0.2058 0.1764* 0.0378 NN (0.09) 0.0441 0.0378 0.0081*
MM x MN = 0.49 x 0.42 = 0.2058 x 2 = 0.4116
MM x NN = 0.49 x 0.09 = 0.0441 x 2 = 0.0882
MN x MN = 0.42 x 0.42 = 0.1764
MN x NN = 0.42 x 0.09 = 0.0378 x 2 = 0.0756
NN x NN = 0.09 x 0.09 = 0.0081
- The probability of each genotype resulting from each potential cross. Answer: You may wish to do a simple Punnett’s square monohybrid cross and, if you do, you’ll come out with the following result: MM x MM = 1.0 MM
MM x MN = 0.5 MM 0.5 MN
MM x NN = 1.0 MN
MN x MN = 0.25 MM 0.5 MN 0.25 NN
MN x NN = 0.5 MN 0.5 NN
NN x NN = 1.0 NN
PROBLEM #9. Cystic fibrosis is a recessive condition that affects about 1 in 2,500 babies in the Caucasian population of the United States. Please calculate the following:
- The frequency of the recessive allele in the population. Answer: We know from the above that q2 is 1/2,500 or 0.0004. Therefore, q is the square root, or 0.02. That is the answer to our first question: the frequency of the cystic fibrosis (recessive) allele in the population is 0.02 (or 2%).
- The frequency of the dominant allele in the population. Answer: The frequency of the dominant (normal) allele in the population (p) is simply 1 – 0.02 = 0.98 (or 98%).
- The percentage of heterozygous individuals (carriers) in the population. Answer: Since 2pq equals the frequency of heterozygotes or carriers, then the equation will be as follows: 2pq = (2)(.98)(.02) = 0.04 or 1 in 25 are carriers.
PROBLEM #10. In a given population, only the "A" and "B" alleles are present in the ABO system; there are no individuals with type "O" blood or with O alleles in this particular population. If 200 people have type A blood, 75 have type AB blood, and 25 have type B blood, what are the alleleic frequencies of this population (i.e., what are p and q)? Answer: To calculate the allele frequencies for A and B, we need to remember that the individuals with type A blood are homozygous AA, individuals with type AB blood are heterozygous AB, and individuals with type B blood are homozygous BB. The frequency of A equals the following: 2 x (number of AA) + (number of AB) divided by 2 x (total number of individuals). Thus 2 x (200) + (75) divided by 2 (200 + 75 + 25). This is 475/600 = 0.792 = p. Since q is simply 1 – p, then q = 1 – 0.792 or 0.208.
PROBLEM #11. The ability to taste PTC is due to a single dominate allele "T". You sampled 215 individuals in biology, and determined that 150 could detect the bitter taste of PTC and 65 could not. Calculate all of the potential frequencies. Answer: First, lets go after the recessives (tt) or q2. That is easy since q2 = 65/215 = 0.302. Taking the square root of q2, you get 0.55, which is q. To get p, simple subtract q from 1 so that 1 – 0.55 = 0.45 = p. Now then, you want to find out what TT, Tt, and tt represent. You already know that q2 = 0.302, which is tt. TT = p2 = 0.45 x 0.45 = 0.2025. Tt is 2pq = 2 x 0.45 x 0.55 = 0.495. To check your own work, add 0.302, 0.2025, and 0.495 and these should equal 1.0 or very close to it.