Friday, May 24, 2013

Summer 2013 Internship: Joint Post from Kala Marks and Curtis Okolovitch

The past two weeks have been extremely busy in the lab! We just started a big three-part experiment with two of our fastest growing oil degraders. We’re using a spectrophotometer to measure growth of our bacterial cultures on Macondo oil. As we’ve mentioned before, we’re also growing the same cultures on oil and using gas chromatography to quantify the amount of oil degradation carried out by these pure cultures. For the third part of the experiment, we’re working with Dr. Terry Snell’s lab here at Georgia Tech to measure the toxicity of inoculated and uninoculated cultures. They will use a Rotifer assay to determine if bacterial degradation decreases the toxicity of oil. We inoculated all 27 of the cultures on Monday and have seen substantial growth in the past 5 days! Curtis has been measuring their growth everyday and saw a massive increase in biomass within the first couple of days. There is also a clear difference in oil degradation between the control and bacterial
treatments (pictures included). There is even a qualitative difference in how the two strains degrade the oil.

We also finished up DNA extractions from four different sample sets and sent them off for sequencing! Curtis kind of had a crash course in microbiology this week. He did DNA extractions and PCR for the first time, and he also learned how to take growth measurements from liquid cultures. So far so good!

Until next time,
Curtis & Kala (a.k.a. “The Deep-C Duo”)
Georgia Tech

Photos (from top): 1. This is the spectrophotometer we use to measure the growth of our cultures. 2. This is our uninoculated control. There is no growth and the oil still forms a smooth sheen on the surface of the water. 3. The strain on the left is Alcanivorax and the strain on the right is Acinetobacter. Both are well known oil-degrading bacteria and grow very quickly on oil. There are differences in how they degrade oil. As seen in the picture, Acinetobacter forms more clumps around the oil whereas Alcanivorax doesn’t.

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