Well, this is it folks! My year as an Oregon Sea Grant scholar has come to a close. Between my last blog and now, I have made great strides in my work.
First off, the chemostat works beautifully! After many false starts, George is finally functioning as it should, readjusting the pH of the culture vessel by bubbling the media with CO2 gas. The LabVIEW program monitors and regulates everything, and I am going to write a function into it that will allow it to send a warning to my phone when something goes wrong, any time of the day or night (I’m not sure if I should be excited about this…).
Aided by my intrepid undergraduate intern, Maria, I ran an experiment this summer to test the effect that a range of pHs would have on saxitoxin production of A. catenella. I compiled growth data, PAM fluorescence data, ran numerous reactive oxygen species (ROS) assays to determine the level of physiological stress in the dinoflagellates, and ran an intracellular saxitoxin ELISA assay. I plan to do the extracellular ELISA in the very near future.
I am still in the process of data processing, statistical analysis, finishing the other ELISAs, doing back-up lab work, etc. However, I can tell you that my preliminary data processing seems to indicate that my original hypotheses are correct: stress induced by low pH is linked with increased saxitoxin production in A. catenella.
For the actual results – well, you’ll just have to read the papers.
I’ve learned a lot this year, and seen much work come to fruition that may not have been possible without this scholarship. I’m very blessed to have had the opportunity and ability to do this research. If the new Malouf scholars have as much fun as I did this year, they will count themselves lucky to be scientists. :)