Preprint Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Elucidating the Importance of Numeracy Skills for Undergraduate Students in Life Sciences Using the Oxygen Requirement in Yeast as an Example

Version 1 : Received: 1 March 2018 / Approved: 2 March 2018 / Online: 2 March 2018 (07:01:22 CET)

How to cite: Raghavendran, V.; Olavarria, K.; Gombert, A.K. Elucidating the Importance of Numeracy Skills for Undergraduate Students in Life Sciences Using the Oxygen Requirement in Yeast as an Example. Preprints 2018, 2018030019 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201803.0019.v1). Raghavendran, V.; Olavarria, K.; Gombert, A.K. Elucidating the Importance of Numeracy Skills for Undergraduate Students in Life Sciences Using the Oxygen Requirement in Yeast as an Example. Preprints 2018, 2018030019 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201803.0019.v1).

Abstract

Current education in biology is devoid of mathematics in many countries, probably because many relevant biological processes are explained from a qualitative point of view rather than addressing the quantitative aspects of these phenomena. Here, we employ a case study from the yeast physiology to illustrate the importance of numeracy skills for a deeper understanding of relevant biological problems. Yeast anaerobic growth on sugars is a widespread process as it is the basis for beer, bread, and winemaking and it is much akin to lactic acid fermentation in muscle cells in response to an increased energy demand. To study the physiology of yeasts under controlled conditions and being able to compare the results quantitatively, one ought to perform measurements and calculations involving concentrations of oxygen, biomass, and organic compounds. To set-up an “anaerobic” culture of Saccharomyces cerevisiae in a defined medium, one needs to calculate how much oxygen must enter the cultivation system, to meet the requirements for ergosterol and oleic acid biosyntheses, both of which require oxygen. Using basic physicochemical principles and simple mathematical skills, students will be able to compute the oxygen requirement for yeast growth under such “anaerobic” conditions.

Subject Areas

diffusion; gas transfer; fermentation; uptake rate; physio-chemical

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