Down here in Brevard, North Carolina science is getting real. Coming back from Thanksgiving break our minds are set on the BIG PICTURE. The Bryce, Lauren and Eliza science collaboration team are researching biofuels and the process in which enzymes are needed to produce a burnable fuel that will hopefully replace a portion of petroleum products in the future. Recently our group has been culturing several types of fungi and bacteria. These fungi and bacteria are being selected or drafted for their ability to produce enzymes valued in the biofuel process. These selected organisms will be combined to form a consortium or “team” of microorganisms which will produce enzymes in the most efficient way. Each individual organism will have a specific set of characteristics and abilities the other lacks which will hopefully provide a synergistic means of accomplishing a task. This is as if we were selecting players for a basketball team. Each player has a certain task in the operation to perform as well as possible. The Trichoderma sp. of Fungi is thought to be the “Michael Jordan” of our “players”. Trichoderma has shown abilities greater than any other fungi to produce the enzymes we are scouting for. Hopefully when our research comes to a halt we will have the dream team for producing biofuels.
The project proposals are in and we’re on our way with the end goal in mind. Our science team, which includes Lauren, Eliza and Bryce (AKA Brella), is working of improving the efficiency or the biofuel process. Specifically we want to find the optimal consortuim of microorganisms that secrete vauluable enzymes that break down the polysacharides to be later coverted into alchohols. After several weeks of planning our project we have come across several confilicts. Originally we planned on including our beloved Diaporthe fungus in our consortium but we came to the realization that we don’t have enough time to first isolate a natural microbial consortium, assay the enzymes in those and also create the Diaporth consortium artificially. Our new and improved plan is focusing on just isolating the natural consortuim and using enzyme assays to detect the level of activity. The Diaporthe consortuim will be put on hold unless we have enough time. Despite our many challenges faced during our research our dream of improving the biofuel process is still the same and we will keep working with the big picture in mind.
Our final experiment was done today. We tried some new primers on our LAMP assay. They work better than anything we tried before. It’s a success! We finished our paper today also. It still needs some tweaking but we got it done. Sam and I have officially created the fastest detection method ever created for downy mildew. A lot of things can happen after seven hours in the TIME room.
Down in room 604 at Brevard High School, the team of Sam and Bryce put the foot to the gas this week to get things done. Now that Sam and Bryce got through the stacks of papers they can move onto doing some real science! Sam and Bryce are hoping to find a new way to culture Hops Downy Mildew and to create a faster detection system for this Hop eating fungi. Last month Sam went to the Mountain Research Station in Fletcher to collect some samples. With Sam and Bryce on the job, there might just be hope for the hops yet!