Bioscience in Central Victoria

In June the GTAC crew took bioscience programs to Wodonga, Rochester, Bendigo, Maryborough and Seymour. Students from Echuca and East Loddon also joined the sessions at Rochester Secondary College. Students in years 10-12 explored a range of topics where biotechnology is used to investigate the DNA of people, bacteria and viruses. Working with DNA allows us to investigate a wide range of topics in modern and ancient biology.

DNA can be used to identify whether a person is carrying disease-causing viruses, such as some strains of human papilloma virus (HPV) that can cause cervical and other cancers. Year 10 and 11 students identified strains of HPV in ‘patient’ samples by looking at virus DNA. Different strains of virus are identified by comparing patterns of DNA generated by gel electrophoresis. The HPV vaccination program, for protection against cancer-causing strains of HPV, is provided free to all Australian teenagers.

In another program, students looked into lactose intolerance. This is when you cannot digest lactose (milk sugar), so you cannot drink dairy milk without experiencing bloating and diarrhoea. They found that digesting lactose is about inheriting a genetic switch for enzymes involved in lactose digestion. They studied the evolution of lactose intolerance by looking at the genetic switch of modern and prehistoric samples. The evolution of the active and inactive switch can be traced with DNA.

Working with DNA: (left to right) Incubating DNA and restriction enzymes in a 37ºC water bath; the challenge of loading DNA into tiny wells in an agarose gel with a micropipettor; viewing the DNA fragments in the gel with UV light.

Students get their hands onto DNA models, encouraged by GTAC mentor, Shane.



Have you ever heard of organisms that fluoresce (glow)? Unit 3-4 Biology students investigated the DNA manipulation methods for transferring a gene for green fluorescent protein into bacteria. They employed DNA manipulation methods used in the biomedical, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries.

Shining UV light to view bacteria transformed with green fluorescent protein.








The GTAC crew had a great time travelling through central Victoria and meeting so many keen, enthusiastic young biologists.




GTAC visits Rural Government schools each year, with different regions scheduled at different times. Click here to view the regions visited, scheduled dates and to express your interest in a visit from GTAC.