Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Eric S. Gilbert, PhD

Second Advisor

Sidney A. Crow, Jr., PhD

Third Advisor

Barbara R. Baumstark, PhD

Abstract

The objectives of this work are: 1) to agarose-stabilize fragile biofilms for quantitative structure analysis; 2) to understand the influences of LuxS on biofilm formation; 3) to improve teacher quality by preparing Georgia’s middle school science teachers to integrate inquiry-based, hands-on research modules in the classroom. Quantitative digital image analysis demonstrated the effectiveness of the agarose stabilization technique for generating reproducible measurements of three dimensional biofilm structure. The described method will also benefit researchers who transport their flow cell-cultivated biofilms to a core facility for imaging. AI-2-dependent and independent effects of LuxS on biofilm-related phenotypes were revealed, suggesting that LuxS is a versatile enzyme, possessing multiple functions in E. coli ecology that could assist E. coli in adapting to diverse conditions. Overall, the work presented in this dissertation supported the concept that quorum sensing, biofilm formation, and cell adhesion are largely related. Additionally, through this project, teachers enhanced content knowledge and confidence levels, mastered innovative teaching strategies and integrated inquiry-based, inter-disciplinary, hands-on activities in the classroom. As a result, student learning was enhanced, and teachers are better equipped to give Georgia’s students a solid foundation in the sciences.

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