27 November, 2003
Setting Up Our Lab and Preparing to Process
Now that we’ve returned from our first trip to the Dry Valleys, it is time to start processing the samples we collected.
Before we can start working with our samples, we needed to gather science equipment, organize our lab, and prepare the media upon which the yeast and bacteria will grow. Helping us accomplish this task are the final members of the team, Scott Craig and Barb Schulz. Scott and Barb left exactly a week after us and arrived while we were in the Dry Valleys. It is nice to finally have the entire “Yeasty Boyz” team together.
Rusty and I started our day with a trip to the Crary Lab stock room to gather the needed materials and lab equipment. An hour or two later we returned with several carts containing balances, centrifuges, pH meters, conductivity meters, shaker baths, tube rockers, incubator baths, and many other needed supplies and misc. equipment. While we were gathering equipment, Barb, Regina, and Laurie set up the lab by unpacking boxes, putting away materials, sterilizing work areas, and organizing the lab. Since microbes are found all over (on countertops, on us, etc.) we have to be concerned about possible contamination. One way to ensure that the “critters” that grow on our plates are indeed organisms we collected from Antarctic soils is to sterilize our instruments with an autoclave. An autoclave acts somewhat like a pressure cooker in that the items are heated under extreme pressure and temperature. After 20-30 min in the autoclave, any critters that might have been on the item would have been killed, thus making it sterile. Since a lot of our equipment needed to be sterilized, Barb and I spent much of the day autoclaving bottles of water and misc. instruments and items that will come in contact with our samples.
Since we are studying living organisms, we must provide a proper food source and climate in order for them to grow. Bacteria and yeast are grown in plastic Petri dishes, or plates, that contain a gelatin type food source, known as agar and then incubated at a temperature that is conducive for growth. Since we are looking at both bacteria and yeast in Antarctic soils, we must use plates that contain different types of “food”. Bacteria will be grown on Luria-Bertani (LB) agar and the yeast will grow on Yeast Peptone Dextrose (YPD) agar. We also add 2 antibiotics (chloramphenicol and ampicillin) to the YPD agar. Why would we want to put antibiotics only on our yeast plates? (Hint: What do antibiotics target?)
Now that our lab is organized, and the media has been prepared and poured, we will be ready to plate our samples tomorrow.
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