Monday, September 12, 2016

Isolating Dictyostelids from Soil Samples

This week, former REU Maria Polo showed UH undergraduates how to isolate dictyostelids from soil samples. They plated out the soil on hay infusion agar plates, and the plates will be checked in ~4-5 days for slugs -- the first multicellular stage of Dictyostelium.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Mountain Lake Biological Station Open House

Every summer the MLBS invites the public to come up and see what the researchers have been working on. Every lab puts on their best show and offers a hands on experience to share their interesting organisms.
Alex Novarro showing off his salamander collection

The art lab, providing custom face painting

Cloe Nash and the Ant Lab

Courtney, explaining mouse parasitism

Fish Class

Campanula americana lab

Salamanders are always a hit

Mike being sciency

Maria loves open house!

Juvenile Salamander 

Mature Salamander

Work by Marc Robarge:
Much of his work is clearly inspired by Dicty...

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Let's submit strains to the Dicty World Race!

A great idea for this semester's project?

Dicty World Race is a contest where participants enter their cells in a race to see who has the fastest strain.

The race is just four months away.  Can we come up with a strategy to find the fastest strain?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Visit to Claytor Nature Study Center

Michael and Maria visited a new field station, the Claytor Nature Study Center, in search of slime mold samples. This beautifully preserved 470 acre property spans the Big Otter river, near Bedford, VA and the Souther Appalachians. Here are some of the treasures from the day.
Trying to capture the white slime mold. I noticed something interesting in the background of this photo.

Possible Slime Mold

Part of the observation deck at the main building

Farm House

View from the Farm House

5th Largest White Ash in VA. 

Red raspberry slime mold (Tubifera ferruginosa)

Large Chestnut, likely planted by Claytor

Jelly Fungus (Tremella?)

Astronomical observatory housing a C Optical Systems 20-inch Truss Ritchey-Chr├ętien telescope

Large predatory Beetle, likely Carabus. Feeds on snails and caterpillars. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Dicty fieldwork!

Michael and Maria are spending the summer at our field site at the Mountain Lake Biological Station, near Blacksburg, Virginia. They are censusing our populations around the station and will take a road trip throughout the northeast to find new ones. Maria is our NSF-funded REU, and we are excited about her planned research, which will focus on interspecific chimerism.

Hard at work...
Hardly working ;-)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Transforming Soil Bacteria

We have been attempting transformations of soil bacteria. This time there were some GFP positive cells visible under magnification in the soil slurry, which is encouraging, but here is what grew on the LB plates:

The plate is covered with kanamycin resistant colonies. On one edge are these brilliant red colonies and around some of their edges there appeared to be some fluorescence under the blue light. Interestingly, the plates give off a very strong, almost pleasant sweet aroma, much like a very ripe pineapple.
Can you guess the bacteria with the red pigment?

Looking closer, the fluorescence seems to be coming off of the bumpy opaque colonies around the red colonies. This looks similar to what we found before, which grew into a think fuzzy mat. Left is the green fluorescence of the right image.

Getting Creative in the Lab

We have been continuing work on our differential phagocytosis experiment. Here you can see we came up with a method to grow individual mixes of amoeba and bacteria on isolated plugs of agar. The hope is that we can have different mixes on each plug and simply "pop" out each time point and measure the change in cell proportions as we move through the experiment.