The Ames Test
Goodson-Gregg and Elizabeth A. De Stasio
This published laboratory introduces
students to the Ames test, an assay used
to determine the mutagenic properties of
chemical compounds, using a distinctly
quantitative approach. Students
must develop their own hypotheses, use
proper positive and negative controls,
perform their own serial dilutions, use
sequencing and bioinformatics to assess
their results, and finally, write up
their findings in a formal laboratory
Originally published in GENETICS
by Nathan Goodson-Gregg and Elizabeth A.
De Stasio in 2009, and distributed here
with their permission.
Genetics Concept(s) Addressed:
Nature of Genetic Material: Nature of Genetic Material: What are the molecular components and mechanisms necessary to preserve and duplicate an organism’s genome?
Genetic Variation: How do different
types of mutations affect genes and the
corresponding mRNAs and proteins?
Core Competencies Addressed:
Students should be able to implement observational strategies to devise a question.
Students should be able to generate testable hypotheses.
Students should be able to design an experiment using appropriate controls and appropriate sample sizes.
Students should be able to gather and evaluate experimental evidence, including qualitative and quantitative data.
Students should be able to generate and interpret graphs displaying experimental results.
Students should be able to critique large data sets and use bioinformatics to assess genetics data.
Students should be able to communicate experimental results effectively, including writing research papers and giving presentations.
2 weeks (Week 1: 3 hrs;
Week 2: 2 hrs)
Goodson-Gregg, N. and De Stasio, E. A.
(2009) Reinventing the Ames Test as a
Quantitative Lab That Connects Classical
and Molecular Genetics. Genetics
181: 23-21. DOI:
Paper in GENETICS