Epic Summer, New Experiences

Wow! It’s hard to believe that it’s already the last day of the REU! At first I was nervous, but I am more than glad I accepted this adventure. During the summer I had the amazing opportunity to work under the mentoring of Deana Erdner and wow! I learned a lot! When starting with my experiment I was a bit worried, to be honest, qPCR was something that I had never heard before. Thankfully Deana, and her lab (Tatiana, Ingrid, Yida), where always there for me. In terms of my project, thinks turned out really good! For my project I wanted to see if there was a change in the rRNA gene content of the A. tamarense during different growth phases, and after dealing with the qPCR and the standards, my results demonstrated a variability in the gene content. My experiment changed a lot from what I started with on June,  so to keep you updated, here is the abstract for my REU-experiment during this summer 2016.

Ribosomal RNA gene content of the dinoflagellate Alexandrium tamarense

Phytoplankton are planktonic phototrophic organisms that play an important role in the marine ecosystem. They grow according to the availability of carbon dioxide, sunlight and nutrients. It is often challenging to understand them in their natural environment, for why scientists have been studying the ribosomal RNA (rRNA) to understand more about their physiology and way of living.  The rRNA is essential to the cell because it provides structure for ribosomal protein. There have been published and unpublished studies demonstrating that there have been cases when the rRNA gene content from phytoplankton changes. For this project, quantitative PCR (qPCR) was used to analyze the rRNA gene content of the phytoplankton dinoflagellate Alexandrium tamarense. For the qPCR, the fluorescence DNA-binding dye SYBR green assays was used. The gene content was analyzed from two different perspectives: 1. taking samples in different growth stages; 2. exposing cultures to different amount of light to see if there is a relation between growth rate and rRNA gene copy number. The growth stages used for the first experiment were early and late exponential. For the second experiment, cultures were grown in different amount of light and synchronized to  receive an accurate copy per cell number. The results show an unexpected change in rRNA gene content during the two phases of the early and late exponential stage. The numbers increased from early exponential to late exponential. The results were contradict for  what has been seen in previous published studies. Additionally, a variability in rRNA gene content was observed from the different levels of light. This bring us to the possibility that the change in gene copy number is related to physiological adaptations.

I’m leaving Port AranIMG_0357 (1)sas Tx. with many good memories. Besides learning new things everyday, and having an amazing mentor, I also met a lot of amazing people it the UT-MSI. Specially the other REU students (fam). If it wasn’t because of them, their support, and their craziness, this summer experience would have not been the same! I am really grateful for this amazing opportunity, and I know this is the beginning to a new journey.


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