Friday, May 10, 2013

Kala Marks' Internship, Summer 2013 - Part 1

My name is Kala Marks and I just graduated with a BS in Biology from Georgia Tech. I started doing research with Dr. Joel Kostka in January 2011 and have mainly focused on the cultivation of oil-degrading bacteria. I have also used molecular biology techniques to analyze shifts in the community composition of microorganisms in response to oil contamination in beach sands. This summer I will be quantifying oil degradation carried out by our oil-degrading bacterial isolates.

This week we finally finished extracting DNA from the Pensacola Beach sand samples, and we should be sending those out next week for sequencing! I also started inoculum cultures for the oil degradation experiment I will be conducting this summer with Curtis Okolovitch (pictures below). This summer, Curtis and I will be quantifying oil degradation carried out by isolates we enriched from oil contaminated beach sands in 2010. We will be growing our pure cultures on crude oil for two weeks, then we will use gas chromatography to quantify percent oil degraded by comparing the remaining total petroleum hydrocarbons in treatments and uninoculated controls. This week, I was taught the overall workings of the gas chromatograph (GC). I learned how to inject samples into the GC, how to create standard curves, and I now have a basic understanding of how it works. However, we will still be taking a trip down to FSU sometime during the summer to learn how to extract oil from the cultures and how to use the GC to specifically measure total petroleum hydrocarbons. We are bringing two isolates with us to FSU just to test the methods, then the rest of the summer will be focused on using the methods we learned at FSU to test the rest of the isolates up here at Georgia Tech. If time permits, we hope to test all 24 of our isolates. When Curtis gets here next week we will start prepping the samples to bring down to FSU!
These are two of our oil-degrading isolates that we will be using to learn how quantify oil degradation. The culture on the left is Alcanivorax sp. and the culture on the right is Acinetobacter sp.
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Kala Marks
Deep-C Intern with Dr. Joel Kostka, Georgia Tech

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