Re: [DIYbio] Suggestions for beginner projects?

It depends on your goals. IMHO a beginner project should focus on learning about the organism, how to culture it, good experimental design practices, and a solid fundamental understanding of the theory that goes into this practice. I've seen many fall victim to the fetishization of equipment and the hype behind using cutting edge tools early on. Its fun at first but then fall into the common pitfall of "what can I do now that I made ecoli glow" and some remain there for a long time. If you have an understanding of the system under test or at least how these tools came about, you may find a plethora of questions you may want to pursue. 

If you want to do biology, Try something like documenting the effects of growth using various media formulations of your organism of choice. Learn your canvas before you paint!

If you just want to doodle with biotech, an ecoli transformation will give you a "yay me" moment and you can build upon that. As for plants, learn to tissue culture first. This is not trivial despite what people say and is absolutely crucial (i cant stress this enough) that you are capable of reliably regenerating plants from tissue BEFORE any engineering can take place. There is no cutting corners with plant biotech unfortunately and a bad foundation leads to an unstable building no matter how tall and fancy it may seem to be.

In summary: start with a question!

What do you want to know more about?

Science is all about generating new knowledge so having a tool set to pull knowledge from the ether is vital.

Book recommendations:
Experimental Design for Biologists, 2nd edition
Plants from Test Tubes, 4th edition
Philosophy of Science, A Very Short Introduction

Websites for chems and plasmids:

Good luck and don't be shy to ask questions frequently! 

Sebastian S. Cocioba
CEO & Founder
New York Botanics, LLC

On Mar 4, 2017, at 12:56 PM, MC <> wrote:

Based on your experiences, what recommendations do you have for relatively simple beginner projects with good learning objectives that can be performed and verified without specialized equipment (like PCR)? Here are the ones I have in mind, any other ones you can suggest?
  • E. coli transformation with pVIB, GFP, pBLU, and other visually verifiable plasmids.
  • Agrobacterium mediated transformation of plants with GFP.
  • Isolation of V. phosphoreum from seafood.

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