After the recent media attention Naegleria fowleri, better known as “the brain eating amoeba” has become a serious concern for people around the world. N. fowleri is an amoeba that is found in soil and waterways (natural and man made) around the globe. The amoeba enters the body through the nasal cavity when water is forced into the nose and then moves into the brain. When the amoeba does not find bacteria to feed on it begins eating the brain. N. fowleri are thermophilic amoeba, which means they thrive in warmer waters. Since the amoeba prefer warmer waters previous scientists have investigated the presence of N. fowleri in thermally polluted lakes. In our project we are going to investigate local lakes (2 thermally polluted, 2 not) for the presence of N. fowleri. The two thermally polluted lakes we will test are Lake Keowee and Lake Julian. The two non-thermally polluted lakes we will test will be Lake Jocassee and Fawn Lake. Right now we are working on perfecting PCR and gel electrophoresis (we will test for the presence of N. fowleri DNA) methods before we take our samples from the lakes. We are also waiting on a positive control, already identified N. Fowleri DNA, for our experiment which has proven to be a lot harder and more expensive than we thought. We are also still evaluating the risks of our projects. We believe we have eliminated all of them by not culturing the N. fowleri and just work with it’s DNA. We are all excited and also nervous to see if N. fowleri will be found in our local lakes!
If you were to look down ¨the bee groups” microscopes these past couple of weeks you would have seen exactly what is pictured. We spent a day preparing the extracted guts for examination and counting by creating a gut and water solution. We then pipetted the 30 milliliter solution into the fantastic disposable hemocytometers we ordered! Then we began the counting which was much more tedious than we expected. Who knew bee guts could hold so much stuff! It was very interesting to look at all of the stuff in the guts that were not nosema spores like small pieces of pollen floating around. We have worked really hard and have now successfully gathered all of our data and are ready to get to a competition!
On Monday October 13 we presented our groups (Hannah, Ingrid, Aaron) project proposal to the attendees of the Transylvania county bee keepers meeting. It went really well! We gained many more community contacts and we also found many bee keepers willing to let us test their bees in our project! On Tuesday Dr. Wells came to the school and taught us how to properly administer an epi pen in case of anaphylaxis. Now we are going to start contacting the bee keepers and decide when we are going to start heading to their hives and testing their bees!