The End of the First week!

Wow I honestly can’t believe it is already the end of the first week of block 4!  Time flies when you’re having fun in a lab class. But really this week flew by.  That always seems to happen the first week after block break though.  This block I am taking Bacterial Genetics and Physiology.  It is an upper level elective for Biology, and Biochem majors.  We have 8 people total in class this block.   It is the smallest class I have had ever at CC and it is great!

We have covered so much information about Bacteria this week! For example,  did you know that Bacteria help form rain clouds because they produce sulfate?  Well I definitely didn’t until this past week. This is the reason they seeded the clouds in China before the Olympics to make it rain.  Cool huh?   Bacteria can also help clean up sites that are toxic to animal and human life.  It’s a process called Bioremediation and it was used after the BP oil spill.  The bacteria were able to use the oil as a source of fuel and help clean up the oil spill.  It’s amazing to think that something that we can’t even see without a microscope can have such a huge impact on all life.  I mean microbes live pretty much everywhere on the planet and participate in so many cycles on Earth it’s unreal. But, don’t freak about them living everywhere because a lot of them are harmless to humans and animals and actually use us to survive.  So don’t think you have to constantly sanitize everything just because bacteria live everywhere on earth.

Not only are we getting to learn about all the cool things bacteria can do, we  have also been given the chance to do some hands on research in lab of mutant  strains of a soil bacteria ADP1 (bacteria with deletions of specific genes). The mutants are strains that Phoebe studies in her lab here on campus.  We each have been assigned a mutant to work with for the block and are working with a partner.

On Wednesday we each tested our mutants for ,twitching mobility, their ability to move in soft agar.  This took about 5hrs! The nice thing is you don’t have to stay in the lab for this.  You can just leave the plates in the incubator and come back and check on them after 3hrs.  You can see a photo of our plate below! The red circles show how much the bacteria moved over those 5hrs. Amazing right?

Thursday was an extremely long day.  We were monitoring growth rates of our mutant strains and this process can take up to 12hrs.  Luckily, Phoebe is great and didn’t want us to be in the lab all night so she lessened the amount of time we needed  monitor the growth rate!  We started at 10am and finished at 7pm.  Let me tell you waiting for bacteria to grow is a long process with a lot of down time.  My mom said “Oh so your basically watching grass grow” when I talked to her on the phone, but trust me they grow faster than that.  I thought it was pretty amazing to see how much the number of bacteria increased per hour even though it took FOREVER!  My lab partner  and I were so happy we had finished at 7pm that we gave each other a high-five upon leaving the lab.

We still have a lot to learn in the upcoming weeks, but I’m enjoying the long lab hours because It gives us time to bond as a class and talk to each other about a lot of pointless and random things.  It’s also nice to know you’re not alone in the lab. In the meantime, the first stage of our Grant Proposal is due on Monday and we have our first exam at 10am on Monday as well. Wish us Luck!!!

Published by Erin Slay '14

Hi! I'm a Junior Molecular and Cellular Biology major here at Colorado College. I am also an active member of Peace Jam here on campus. I'm Colorado born and raised and love it here at CC! In my spare time I play IM b-ball, catch up on TV shows,spend time with friends, and relax. I love being able to look at pikes peak every day! The Block Plan is great and so is the Biology Department!