November 3, 2009 8:22 PM

Working with Daphnias

So this semester, I decided to apply for URAP and looking at our NST department, I was in luck. There were many new projects that were available this year and I quickly applied. Along with four other undergrads, we got accepted in the Vulpe lab! I'm so excited to be a part of the research that we're doing. Let me introduce to you what daphnas are. They are nicknamed" water fleas," because these little transparent "bugs" can swim around really fast in the water. We are using these daphnias for toxicity assays in hopes for the long run goal: testing environmental ( mainly water) and ecological effects on toxicants. It's great to solve mysteries in lab, especially when things don't go as planned . For instance, part of my role

is to culture interlab media( specific protocols that require daphnias to be raised in precisely prepared environments in order for them to reproduce effeciently and identically). Since we have about 200 daphnias cultured a week( new batch) , it became apparent that something was wrong when we didn't have a single baby! And it seemed like the daphnias were dying.... it's odd because you start to think, wow, what if these were humans? What if I had put the wrong feeding amounts, or forgot to clean the buckets from which they live? What if I put in the wrong chemicals for their media? Well, finally, through careful process of elimination, my partner and i proposed that maybe the daphnias turned into sexually reproducing daphnias, which means, there's genetic varation( for our experiment, we don' want that) and it takes a while for them to produce babies. You can see if some are pregnant, since they have black eggs on their backs. Well, phew, at least I can rest at night knowing that I didn't "accidentally" kill them. Anyway, enough excitement for one week. Looking back at the end of the day, I always really enjoy the opportunity and love lab- you really learn about the values of using certain tools to find different goals/assays for your experiment, build confidence in yourself that you are doing the right thing, and build great friendships.

Casey Wang | Permalink | Comment on this article | Comments (0)

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