Training the future synthetic biology workforce requires the opportunity for students to be exposed to biotechnology concepts and activities in secondary education. Detecting Wolbachia bacteria in arthropods using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has become a common way for secondary students to investigate and apply recombinant DNA technology in the science classroom. Despite this important activity, cutting-edge biotechnologies such as clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-based diagnostics have yet to be widely implemented in the classroom. To address this gap, we present a freeze-dried CRISPR-Cas12 sensing reaction to complement traditional recombinant DNA technology education and teach synthetic biology concepts. The reactions accurately detect Wolbachia from arthropod-derived PCR samples in under 2 h and can be stored at room temperature for over a month without appreciable degradation. The reactions are easy-to-use and cost less than $40 to implement for a classroom of 22 students including the cost of reusable equipment. We see these freeze-dried CRISPR-Cas12 reactions as an accessible way to incorporate synthetic biology education into the existing biology curriculum, which will expand biology educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
- nucleic acid detection
- secondary science education
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)