Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
EARTH Lesson Plan
microbe image

Lesson Plan Resources

Download (Word | PDF)

Microbe Sort Cards
(PowerPoint | PDF)

Microbe Personality Cards

Gene Sequence Files
16S rRNA Sequences
Functional genes

Microbial Ecological Roles
(Word | PDF)


This lesson provides students with an opportunity to explore the diversity of microbes in the marine environment.  Through classification activities, students will gain an understanding of the challenges in identifying and understanding microbes.  Students will use DNA sequences to identify relatedness between microbes using phylogenetic trees, then identify the role of specific microbes by searching for the presence of functional genes.  A final product will allow students to communicate conclusions based on DNA evidence and research.

They will be using both SeaView (software to compare genetic sequences between organisms) and BLAST (online software to search a genome for a specific function)

Background Reading

Additional Resources

Next Generation Science Standards

  • MS-LS1.A: Structure and Function
    • All cells contain genetic information in the form of DNA molecules. Genes are regions in the DNA that contain the instructions that code for the formation of proteins, which carry out most of the work of cells.
  • HS-LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience
    • Biodiversity describes the variety of species found in Earth’s terrestrial and oceanic ecosystems. The completeness or integrity of an ecosystem’s biodiversity is often used as a measure of its health.
  • HS-LS4.A: Evidence of Common Ancestry and Diversity
    • Genetic information, like the fossil record, provides evidence of evolution. DNA sequences vary among species, but there are many overlaps; in fact, the ongoing branching that produces multiple lines of descent can be inferred by comparing the DNA sequences of different organisms. Such information is also derivable from the similarities and differences in amino acid sequences and from anatomical and embryological evidence.
  • Practices
    • Analyzing and interpreting data
    • Constructing explanations
    • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating
  • Crosscutting Concepts
    • Structure and function

Quick Lesson Links | Microbiology Page

Last updated: Mar. 13, 2015