It can be difficult to present courses in molecular techniques without having the techniques seem prescribed, "cookbook," and disembodied from the realities of the practice of science. It can also be difficult to give students the sense of being part of a larger research community, and of collecting data that will have value once the course is finished and the student has moved on. In this series of laboratory exercises, which lasts approximately one academic quarter, students are introduced to numerous cellular and molecular techniques as they isolate plastids, prepare plastid DNA, construct a plastid DNA library, and sequence clones from the library. Using their data and data from their classmates, students can carry out a variety of self-designed analyses including ones based on genomics and taxonomy. By connecting courses carrying out these exercises at numerous institutions, it will be possible to sequence entire genomes and build a literature of sequence, functional, genomic, taxonomic, and proteomic data.

Key words: cell biology, genomics, molecular biology, plastid, taxonomy, teaching