Blog #3: Progress and Reflection

Recently my research lab has unfortunately experienced contamination of the machinery responsible for creating the NGM plates used in my project. The machinery was contaminated with E. coli, which is the bacteria used in C. elegans research so fortunately the source of contamination was discovered. While the equipment was being sterilized, my project consisted of increasing amounts of literature review. I wish to understand the nematode life cycle and metabolism as best as I can, as well as known interactions between the worm and M. tuberculosis. One paper, entitled “The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans displays a chemotaxis behavior to tuberculosis-specific ordorants” has given major insights into the way the nematode reacts to specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produced by M. tuberculosis. The researchers plated a sample of worms onto a plate containing a sample of a known VOC produced by the bacteria as well as a control substance where the effect on the nematode is known. The behavior of the nematodes were then tracked for an hour. The data consisted of reactions to different concentrations of four know VOCs as well as a calculated chemotaxis index value. A follow up experiment I plan on performing is observing the effect the VOCs have on nematodes lacking the gene responsible for olfaction.

Working with Dr. Marcello has been an amazing experience. Fortunately our schedules are very compatible so we are able to meet very frequently. Any questions that arise while I’m in lab are quickly answered and serve as a fantastic learning experience that will assist me in my future career. Dr. Marcello has also ordered C. elegans mutants, one of which lack the daf2 gene and the other will lack a key gene in the olfactory mechanism. These mutants are key to my project and I cannot wait to begin experiments.

I am fortunate this semester to have had the opportunity to submit a research abstract to the Eastern Colleges Science Conference. Attending this conference will serve as an experience opportunity that will aid me in my career as well as a catalyst for my research.

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