Bacterial evolution

Step into the role of a clinical bacteriologist and use research-grade laboratory equipment to investigate DNA samples from new outbreaks of bacterial disease.

  • Credit: Karen Hatch


  • Key Stage 4

  • Key Stage 5


This workshop is designed for students between the ages of 14 and 18 years old, and lasts for around 4.5 hours including a 30 minute break for lunch (not provided).

The maximum group size is 24. Actual group sizes depend on age and circumstance, for more info contact the team at

The continual struggle between bacterial pathogens and their hosts provides an illustration of evolution in action, driven by changes in the bacterial DNA. Students use restriction enzyme digests and gel electrophoresis to analyse the DNA and additional activities are included to reinforce learning about DNA, restriction enzymes and evolution. At the end of the workshop students look at the DNA evidence, decide what advice to give their colleagues at the scene of the outbreak and whether their outbreak samples need further investigation.

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