Evolution At Warp Speed
This activity explores an image of the MEGA-Plate experiment, which serves as a phenomenon for learning about antibiotic resistance and evolution by natural selection.
Antibiotics are chemicals that kill bacteria or stop them from growing. But over time, populations of bacteria can evolve resistance to antibiotics, which means that the antibiotics will no longer work against them. To study how bacteria evolve resistance, scientists set up an experiment called the MEGA-Plate — a large bacterial growth plate divided into sections with different amounts of antibiotics. This image shows the MEGA-Plate from above after 11 days. E. coli bacteria appear as white on the black background.
The “Educator Materials” document includes background information and implementation suggestions for using the image as a phenomenon. The “Student Handout” includes the image and background information.
Student Learning Targets
- Examine images of phenomena, make observations, and ask questions.
- Collaborate with peers on ideas, ask questions that require higher levels of reasoning, and develop deeper understanding of concepts.
- Explain how populations of bacteria evolve antibiotic resistance through the process of evolution by natural selection.
antibiotic resistance, antibiotics, E. coli, medicine, MEGA-Plate, microbial evolution, pathogen, superbug
Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
HS-LS4-2, HS-LS4-4; SEP1
AP Biology (2019)
EVO-1.C, EVO-1.D, EVO-1.E, EVO-1.J, EVO-3.A, SYI-3.D, IST-4.A; SP3
IB Biology (2016)
AP Environmental Science (2020)
Topic(s): 2.6, 2.7
Learning Objectives & Practices: ERT-2.H, SP2
Common Core (2010)
Vision and Change (2009)