Yeast Stress Responses as a Model for Studying the Impact

Ruth Phillipsrphillips@nccu.eduNorth Carolina Central University
Cathy Keyckey@nccu.eduNorth Carolina Central University
David McDonaldDuke University
Sarah CouncilUS2020 RTP STEM Outreach Program
Lauren CroweDuke University

Project Location


Student Audience

Introductory, Major

Scientific Domain

  • Molecular and cellular biology

Nature of the Research

  • Wet lab/bench research
  • Basic research

Core Concepts

  • Structure and Function: Basic units of structure define the function of all living things.

Core Competencies

  • Applying the process of science
  • Communicating and collaborating
  • Understanding the relationship between science and society

Learning Objectives

  • Discuss toxicity/how cellular processes are affected by environmental agents
  • Design an experiment to discover which cellular processes are affected by the agents they choose .
  • Link cell/molecular biology of yeast to real-world environmental and ecological issues.
  • Treat cells with various environmental agents; measure growth, viability, gene expression and mating success.


In our General Biology III (molecular and cellular biology) CURE lab, Saccharomyces cerevisiae is used as a system to study how environmental chemicals affect gene expression, cell reproduction, and viability.  Students focus on using yeast to represent eukaryotic cells in general, emphasizing that we all share the same molecules, cell structures, and cellular processes.  Over the course of the semester we investigate substances that create cellular stress, emphasizing the consequences to the cell and to the organism as a whole. Finally, we invite students to select agents from a list of environmental contaminants (fracking chemicals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, etc.,) and design experiments to determine if the selected agents affect cellular processes. 

Phillips, Ruth North Carolina Central University
Key, Cathy North Carolina Central University
McDonald, David Duke University
Council, Sarah US2020 RTP STEM Outreach Program
Crowe, Lauren Duke University