Hey there! Week 8 has been dedicated primarily to 1) creating our posters and 2) scrambling to collect any last-minute data we need in order to complete our posters. The last two weeks especially have involved a lot of late nights in lab and a few microscope-induced headaches, but it has been well worth it. After a “meh” staining earlier this week, we finally had success on Thursday! We got some beautiful pictures of larval nervous systems of 7-day old whole-, half-, and quarter-sized larvae and it was a great way to end several weeks of hard work.
From left to right, these are images of 7-day old whole-, half-, and quarter-sized larvae stained with 1E11, a primary antibody that stains for synaptotagmin and thus allows us to visualize the larval nervous system. In yellow, you can see axons and nerve cell bodies, and in blue you can see the results of counterstaining with propidium iodide, which stains DNA and thus the nuclei of cells.
We also managed to get some nice images of flow fields, which are essentially stacked images that display the movement of particles around a given larva. These images allow us to observe the velocity of particles moving around a larva and the load that larvae are moving. To do this, we start by placing a larva in a glass dish containing seawater with algae in it (in this case we used Isochrysis). We then chase around the larva with a teeny-tiny glass pipet that produces just enough suction by capillary action to stick onto the larva’s “butt.” This is a pretty difficult task, as any small movement can knock the larva off of the pipet tip. After many tries, I was finally able to get videos of whole-, half-, and quarter-sized larvae. These flow field images are informative of how well a given larva is able to produce localized currents, which are important in capturing food particles.
Flow field images of whole, half- and quarter-sized larvae at 14 days old
On Tuesday, the rough drafts of our posters were due. In our professional development session that day, we all projected our posters on the board and had a 10-minute rapid-fire critique session where everyone said what they did and didn’t like about each poster. This was definitely a bit intimidating, but it was very beneficial and it helped me see things that I wouldn’t have noticed myself.
On Thursday, we got to attend the wonderful annual Invertebrate Ball! It was a busy week so, in all honesty, I most definitely slacked on my costume. However, Korrina was nice enough to lend me some “eel grass” (green ribbon) and a couple crab stickers before the event, so I was still able to walk the catwalk and participate in the festivities. The Invertebrate Ball was a great way to end a difficult week.
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!