Hello! It’s been a busy week here at OIMB – lots of late nights in the lab and cramming to collect all of our data before our posters are due. We’ve been documenting the development of our cultures of whole, half-, and quarter-sized sand dollar larvae, taking photos with the compound microscope every day. We also did antibody staining with some of the larvae that we had fixed in week 6, which should allow us to observe the nervous system under the confocal microscope and see if there are any observable differences between the wholes, halves, and quarters. The antibody staining was trickier than we expected. Since we didn’t have that many larvae to begin with (we can only separate so many blastomeres, and the war against bacteria continues) we didn’t want to sacrifice too many to the fate of fixation and staining. As a result, we only had a few larvae (anywhere from two to 14) floating around in the small vials in which they are preserved. To our surprise, when we went to do the antibody staining, we couldn’t even find half of our larvae! I don’t know where they went (our hypothesis is they traveled through a portal in the vial to another dimension), but spent a lot of time searching for these larvae that were M.I.A. In the end, we were able to save some, so here’s hoping that the staining process was successful and we’ll get some awesome pictures from the confocal!
Centrin-labelled whole and quarter sand dollar larvae (left and right respectively)
Note the ciliary band running along arms and around the mouth!
In addition to antibody staining, we’ve been using high speed video to observe how effectively larvae are able to perform localized ciliary reversals and capture and retain food. This has involved a lot of sitting at the microscope, staring at a larva as it chows down on some yummy algae and trying to figure out which specific events are best to record. We just started two new cultures this past Wednesday and Thursday – we’ll be using the compound microscope to take measurements of arm length at different developmental stages throughout the next week, and we will also try to record more videos of feeding. We’ll be doing all of this on top of preparing our posters so that we can send them off to printing next Monday! A million things to do and not enough time, as usual.
On Thursday, we all presented our research to the public at the Charleston Marine Life Center. It was really fun to get to present our research to a broader audience and to brainstorm ways to explain things like blastomere separations to kids, teenagers, and adults. On Friday, we ventured to Eugene, where Dr. Kelly Sutherland gave us a tour of the science buildings at the University of Oregon main campus. We also visited the Museum of Natural and Cultural History and explored some of the shops downtown. It was a beautiful and sunny day in Eugene and a great way to end a moderately stressful week of research.
Hello! My name is Ana and I am a rising senior studying biology and music at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. This summer, I am working under the mentorship of George von Dassow. I am looking forward to seeing where my research takes me and to becoming a part of the OIMB community!