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Author: Subject: looking for biochemistry experiments i can do at home. need to spark a passion
Cou
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[*] posted on 9-2-2020 at 13:10
looking for biochemistry experiments i can do at home. need to spark a passion


as a chemistry major, i am taking biochemistry at university, and i find it boring. there is no biochemistry lab, only lecture. i liked organic chemistry because of the cool reactions you can do in flasks, and a lot of amateur chemistry potential. but biochemistry seems to be boring rote memorization to me.

it's a lot easier to learn when you have passion

i'm wondering if theres any experiments i can do at home. i didn't pay good attention to the first month of lecture so i might not have a good understanding of gel electrophoresis, etc. i'm wondering if there's something i can do at home, like buy a gel electrophoresis apparatus and use it to separate proteins in a bacteria culture?
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mayko
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[*] posted on 9-2-2020 at 16:02


Isolating DNA seems as good a place to start as any - check the pinned thread in this sub forum. Getting a really clean product can be a little involved (like the phenol/chloroform protocol I posted), but a crude product can be as simple as detergent lysis followed by alcohol precipitation.

If you get as far as gel electrophoresis, you're also set to do PCRs. Modern labs usually have high-end thermocyclers, but in the old days this was done by hand, with beakers of water at the specified temperatures and a stopwatch. Polymerase would be the most costly part, but a little goes a long way and you might be able to beg some from your prof. Primers are dirt cheap!




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Harristotle
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[*] posted on 10-2-2020 at 05:19


I reckon there is a lot of possibility for novel microbial fuel cell designs.

In particular, standardising a design for a cell, with a standardised innoculum and using it to detect organics in water would be interesting.

So eg feed/condition a microbial fuel cell on an analyte of interest. Lets say glycine. Then when you have an enriched cell that uses glycine, feed a stream of water with various amino acids and see if it can pick glycine.

If the approach works, then congrats, you could (theoretically) develop a meth tester for the sewerage works. (But this I'd suggest you should propose as an honours thesis project, and do it all officially and legally).

so what does it look like? Some muddy jars, some graphite cloth, some pumps (aquarium) and a sensitive multimeter or arduino/high impedence opamp to measure small currents. And time to condition your microbial populations (develop the mixed populations of bugs, especially the filamentous bacteria that function as "wires).

Seriously, microbial fuel cells are cool. And the biochemicals are sold in supplement companies.

Other experiments: check which of the TCA cycle intermediates can be taken up by your fuel cell. Which gets taken up fastest? Can you use this to infer a transporter for that substance?

Can you grow bacterial biomass by gently feeding them on electrons? If you feed one organic substance in, and give the bugs some electrons, what other substances in that cycle can you accumulate. (Exp looks like, connect fuel cell to 1.5v battery via a high resistance (eg 100k ohm) resistor to minimize heating, and feed in acetate, then do some tlc for acids on the output fluid.

Lots of fun, and it will give you quite a good insight into biochemical sensors.

/mad rambling off
Man I am going to have to scrape my leg, that was quite a brainfart !
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Dr.Bob
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[*] posted on 11-2-2020 at 17:25


Fermentation and brewing come to mind.
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[*] posted on 17-2-2020 at 14:11


Check out The Thought Emporium on youtube. He has a few fairly simple projects that are great to get started on and more advanced ones too. You can also isolate bioluminescent bacteria from squid/ bony sea fish (there's a thread for this on the biochem topic here)
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[*] posted on 6-6-2020 at 11:06


Does anyone have good sources for microbial fuel cells?
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[*] posted on 6-6-2020 at 11:28


I can recommend you to try some yeast based reactions, those are fun.
You might get some chiral alcohols this way which smell different to the racemate, and second, you can make some chiral ester with them, I guess that would be something you'd like, no? ;)
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[*] posted on 17-6-2020 at 07:48


"I can recommend you to try some yeast based reactions, those are fun."

I have over ten packets of Saccharomyces Cerevezia laying around my house. Is there anything I can ferment with it to explore the science? Perhaps anything with the biochemistry..? Of course, I've already made ethanol.




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[*] posted on 18-6-2020 at 04:43


Quote: Originally posted by ThoughtsIControl  
Does anyone have good sources for microbial fuel cells?



Yes, fairly easy.
Take a high-ish porosity carbon base- activated carbon from aquaria works well. Place on the bottom of a polystyrene cup. Poke a nickel, gold, or nichrome mesh or wire into it.

Go to a creek. Dig some mud from the bank, such that you are well into the anaerobic zone. Mix into a slurry and overlay your aquarium carbon.

Float a clean layer of water over the mud, allow to settle, and add a small amount of substrate (acetate, sucrose, whatever) to it. Place a high surface area electrode (even a carbon brush from a large motor ) over it.

To condition your cell, supply a high resistance between your two leads. Geobacter and other filamentous organisms gain energy by passing "electrons" (on organic carriers, think like nadh) from aerobic to anaerobic bacteria. The resistance is necessary because it is the movement of these charges that feeds (and allows to grow) these slow growing specialised bugs. Measure the voltage and short circuit current over time to see how your population grows.

Check out the potential of substances - urea, sugar, propylene glycol, glycerol, grey water, anything else you like.
Then, can you run the cell in reverse? If you had a bacteria that could make acetate from ethanol, could you feed it electrons and reverse the process? Anything more imaginative by way of synthesis? Could you recover say something like gold (Au3+ --> Au) or something else intersting from this sort of system, just by feeding some bugs some electrons ?

Go forth and Play ! Ebay and China are very good for conductive carbon meshes.
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[*] posted on 18-6-2020 at 05:56


Quote: Originally posted by ThoughtsIControl  
"I can recommend you to try some yeast based reactions, those are fun."

I have over ten packets of Saccharomyces Cerevezia laying around my house. Is there anything I can ferment with it to explore the science? Perhaps anything with the biochemistry..? Of course, I've already made ethanol.

Reduce some ketones or aldehydes, or maybe do the ehrlich reaction(amino acid fermentation).
The latter will give an alcohol from the amino acid, for example phenylethanol from phenylalanin, tryptophol from tryptophan and so on.
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ThoughtsIControl
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[*] posted on 18-6-2020 at 11:23


"or maybe do the ehrlich reaction(amino acid fermentation).
The latter will give an alcohol from the amino acid, for example phenylethanol from phenylalanin, tryptophol from tryptophan and so on."

I wasn't familiar with the ehrlich reaction until you mentioned it. So basically I would go with the normal sugar wash, but include amino acid content in the solution, too. After fermentation, the yeast will have metabolized and turned the amino acids into their alcoholic derivatives? Is yeast able to metabolize the amino acids because the molecules are all soluble in the solution?




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