Lights, Camera, Action!
This week I have done a lot of filming embryos and watching their development. We spent the early part of the week preparing by injecting starfish eggs with the morphlino solution that would effectively “turn off” certain genes we are studying. By seeing how the cell reacts when the gene cannot be expressed, we learn about the function that protein has in development. Later in the week we matured and fertilized these eggs so they would start to divide. We filmed them overnight with a time lapse camera attached to a microscope and got to see how they did in the morning. Below is a video (please excuse the poor quality, I had to take a video of the screen because of the large file size that the microscope camera requires). I took of some cells which had been injected with a gene knockdown solution to turn off the expression of a specific gene. The blue cells at the bottom which eventually float off screen (a very frustrating problem I keep encountering) are normal cells that we stained as a control. Notice that the yellowish cells that have been injected divide later than the control, divide unevenly, and never reach the blastocyst (hollow ball of cells) stage like the controls. Clearly the cells are having trouble without being able to express the gene that I turned off.
Our little larvae are growing so fast! This week Claire put our Phoronids under the dissecting scope (a microscope that allows us to view organisms swimming in water) and discovered they had grown little squid-like arms! Our Patiria are getting HUGE. I can see them clearly without a microscope now. Also, our urchin larva now look like little spaceships. Watching these guys grow is really fun.
Thanks For Reading!
Just for you few who read all the way to the end, a bonus picture I took a few days ago in Bandon, Oregon. This place is so beautiful!
My name is Nicolle Koontz and I am from Grass Valley, California where I attend Sierra College. I am lucky enough to be working in George von Dassow's lab doing research on the cellular biology of starfish oocytes during mitosis. I am an information addict. I have to know how things work, how we know how those things work, and why they work the way they do. These sorts of questions have led me to major in Biology. As an REU intern I look forward to working in a state of the art lab with mentors and grad students who share in my joy of discovery while also building my skill set. I am so excited to dive into a project that can contribute to our collective scientific understanding of the world.