The Evolution of Bacteria Lab


When you have strep throat, or pneumonia, or some other bacterial infection, doctors usually prescribe an antibiotic. But what happens when you don’t finish the prescription? Or what happens if you pass off your germs before your body finishes killing the infection? The answer is evolution.

Today in class, students simulated how strep throat could be passed from student to student and how it could be treated with penicillin. We used dice to play the roll of the penicillin, and we used numbers on each bacterium to represent the cell’s strength. If you rolled a number higher than the strength of the bacteria, the penicillin was able to kill it.

However, just like in real life, this left us with a problem. The surviving bacteria were usually the strongest ones. And if they were passed on to a new person where they were able to reproduce, that person would have an even stronger version of the infection! By the end of the game, our strep throat bacteria were notably stronger. Of course, in real life, this type of evolution takes years. And new antibiotics are being developed all the time. But that won’t last forever… who knew evolution could be so cruel?

April 5 – Evolution of Bacteria Lab (pg 612)

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