use an ultracentrifuge, which is something few have doneand many will need to do. We use radioactive probes inour course for similar reasons. Radioactive probes offergreater sensitivity, less background signal, and easierwashing and detection than the nonradioactive methodswe have tried. In addition, students learn to handle radio-active isotopes safely, which is something most graduatestudents must learn. Although in our current research weuse polymerase chain reaction to create specific muta-tions, we still teach oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesisbecause it gives students hands-on experience with manyconcepts not covered elsewhere. Thus, this course in-cludes seldom-used procedures with heuristic value to-gether with methods used routinely in typical molecularbiology laboratories.Graduates of our course have successfully applied theseapproaches to their own experimental systems, and theyhave acquired the skills needed to teach themselves newprocedures from
Current Protocols, Molecular Cloning,
and other sources. For example, one of our former stu-dents, William Proebsting, a professor of horticulture atOregon State University, used skills he acquired in ourclass to clone the pea dwarfing gene studied by Mendel
(Proc. Nail. Acad. Sci. USA,
g4: 8907-8911, August 1997).Thus, we have had the satisfaction of seeing this courseprove beneficial to our students, and we have found itrewarding to teach. We hope you have the same experience.
Walter ReamKatharine G. Field