To finish up my discussion regarding the processes involved in my research, this week I will cover sequencing the DNA. Once the DNA has been purified and quantified (week 7 blog post), we send our samples to a company called Sequetech located in Mountain View, CA in order to be sequenced. Once these sequences are ready, we need to analyze them and clean them up a bit. To do this, we use Geneious®, a sequencing analysis software. We first “trim off” the primer section of the DNA, then align the two complimentary strands to look for any discrepancies. Once the two complimentary strands are cleaned up and properly aligned, we can search for any matches to that particular sequence using GenBank®, a collection of publicly available DNA sequences. This data allows us to build phylogenetic trees and observe genetic relationships between species that we are studying. From here we are able to see if we have a species match, an undescribed species, or possibly even cryptic species. The past few blog entries have summed up the majority of my specific research, but the data that has been collected will be further analyzed and used as part of a much larger body of research long after I am finished with this program. I am excited to have the ability to follow the progress of this research into the future.
In week 2 I had mentioned that we had started some cultures of various organisms as a kind of side project, and this last week we have been able to see the results as our larvae have begun metamorphosing into their juvenile forms. The one that I am most proud of though, is our Patiria miniata larvae, as this is one of the more difficult organisms to induce to settle in a lab setting. When this program first began, I was informed that this had not yet been done in our lab, which of course I took as a personal challenge. I am excited to say that we have been wildly successful in getting our Patiria to settle, and I would like to introduce to you Snowflake: the first of his name, king of the larval culture, ruler of the Pyrex dish, and possessor of many tube feet.
My name is Becky, and I have been local to the Coos Bay and Charleston area for two years with my boyfriend David, and my dog Mojo. I moved to this area to complete my associate's degree at Southwestern Oregon Community College in anticipation of transferring to a four-year university. I now attend online at Oregon State University and I am planning a move to Bend, OR in August to continue at the OSU Cascades campus in order to finish my bachelor's degree in either natural resources or biology.