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Thinking Scientifically
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1. What kind of change in the environment would cause a bacterium to change its movement from the pattern on the left to the pattern on the right?

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2. Coral living off the coast of Florida have developed an infection that researchers are calling a "plague." What steps should they take to identify a causative bacterium?

3. Why would a type of bacterium that forms spores make a more effective bioweapon than one that does not form spores?

4. The genetic material of different strains (varieties) of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes tuberculosis, has different stretches of nucleotides called insertion sequences. Are these more likely to have been acquired by vertical or horizontal gene transfer? Cite a reason for your answer.

5. Would a gorilla or a human of the same approximate size have more bacteria on the skin? Cite a reason for your answer.

6. A young child develops a very high fever and an extremely painful sore throat. Knowing that the child could have an infection with a strain of Streptococcus that could be deadly, the physician seeks a very specific diagnosis. What three approaches might the doctor (or a laboratory) use to tell whether this infection is viral or bacterial and, if the latter, identify the bacterium?

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Additional Questions

1. The "dual-use dilemma" refers to the fact that the same type of facility is required to produce vaccines and certain drugs as to produce bioweapons. For example, Russian scientists recently published a paper describing a strain of Bacillus antracis that can resist available vaccines. Such an organism can be produced to develop a more effective vaccine or for potential use as a bioweapon. How do you think governments and industry should cooperate to ensure that microbiology facilities are not used to make bioweapons?

2. In a crowded airport 37 people suddenly become ill and rush to bathrooms with abdominal cramps and diarrhea. What questions would you ask to try to determine the cause of the outbreak?

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