One of the best things about working in the TIME lab is being able to witness a variety of science projects firsthand. Instead of only learning more about your area of research, you have the opportunity to learn about nine other drastically different areas of science. While these projects are very different, they often have overlap which creates a cohesiveness within the classroom.
Brella experienced this firsthand in the recent weeks. As we read more literature on consortium culturing in relation to biofuel, we kept coming across a common fungus- Trichoderma. As we began discussing this more in class, our neighboring team informed us that they had running cultures of this fungus from last year. We were so excited that they were willing to share their cultures with us so we could pursue our project in a new direction!
The competition is always fierce in the TIME classroom, but we also look out for each other. The collaboration that results from working side by side is irreplaceable experience for us and results in great additions to our projects.
The constant thought throughout this semester is “What are we doing?” Sometimes the answer is clear, while other times it takes a lot of thought. Already, Team Brella (Bryce, Eliza, and Lauren) has made a radical change to our plan. Upon further inspection of our original project proposal, we realized that it was not realistic because of our time constraints. We were so ready to begin our project, but instead we went back to the drawing board. With the help of Eliza’s perfectly organized diagrams, we came up with a new and improved plan that still works towards our goal. This is a classic situation that happens in science research. The possibilities excite and overwhelm us and we get a little dazed by them. But taking a step back and considering how realistic the project is really helps ground our ideas and makes for a great project. I can’t wait to see what happens this semester!
Recently, Jolizen has finally isolated an enzyme! We isolated cellobiase, an enzyme that breaks down a type of cellulose, We visited a local lab, called PharmAgra, that does pharmaceutical research. They have larger centrifuges available for our use. We took our fungus over after we added ammonium sulfate that was used to make the proteins a solid. After it was spun at 900 rotations per minute, the proteins all stuck to one side of the bottle. We tested the proteins, and they tested positive to be cellobiase! We could tell because when cellobiase is present, the solution turns yellow.
Eureka! We have found a method to culture our endophytes that works for different tests, and grows faster than on plates. A liquid shake culture is made by putting broth into a flask and putting it on a machine that rotates the cultures. This causes aeration which makes the endophytes grow faster! Now, Jolizen is also able to test for the presence of enzymes using a Biorad test. Once we detect the enzymes, we will use the shake cultures to start isolating the enzymes out of the fungi! Its a bit of a race to have everything cultured, and our enzyme isolation methods down pat before turkey day.
Now that project proposals are over, the real work begins! It is hectic and confusing in the TIME classroom because everyone is trying to figure out our first step. For Jolizen (Joe, Eliza, and Lauren), we are rolling in paper. This year, we are looking at growing endophytes, a type of fungus that mutualistically lives in and around the cell wall of plants, on a paper culture. In order to do this, we will use shredded paper to make a culture.