This is the last week our REU students, Noah and Lauren, will be here :( Don't worry as the algae project will continue to go on, just change hands of who is working on it! As for this week Lauren and Noah gave a poster presentation at Oakland and Michigan State! In addition they did lots of tying up loose ends to make sure the transition between researchers goes smoothly.
Welcome back to the blog! This week has been lots of waiting waiting waiting for us, here in the algae world. All week long we have been taking measurements and waiting for the algae to grow, While PBR 1's cell count is much higher, PBR 2 appears much greener. We hypothesis this is because the mixotrophic growth in PBR 1 messes with the chlorophyll concentration. We have also noticed that the cells in PBR 2 are significantly larger than that of PBR 1, which further supports our hypothesis. Below is a current picture of the PBR tanks! PBR 1 is on the left and PBR 2 is on the right.
We have also been working hard on our poster for the Mid-SURE conference next week! Stay tuned to see it on next weeks blog post!
Wow, this week has been BUSY!
1st: The team corrected the calibration curve! It turned out perfectly this time! This calibration curve is going to be so helpful for further research and will be a huge time savor and improve accuracy. Have a look for yourself!
2nd: The team seeded the reactors for round 2! PBR 1 has glycol and PBR 2 is the same baseline as last time! They are already starting to notice a difference between the two and its only been 1 week! PBR 1 is much cloudier than PBR 2. Neither one is green yet, but they are hoping that will come very soon!
3rd: The team decided to practice the removal procedures with the salvaged algae from PBR 2. So they took 1 L of the algae and flocculated it, they did this by adding 10 ml of sodium hydroxide and waiting for 12 hours. From there they removed the supernate and centrifuged the pellet section. Then they removed the supernate again and placed the pellet onto a small metal tray and repeated until they removed all the algae they could. From there they dehydrated the algae at 140 F for 24 hours. They were saddened by their results because they got less than 1 gram of algae, so they decided to talk to the professionals. They talked to the people who they originally bought the algae from in Texas, they explained what went wrong and told them how to correct for it! The research team plans on following their advice and trying again next week! Below is a picture of the algae once it has been flocculated!
4th: They did an outreach activity and taught the next generation of women in STEM about their algae project and worked with microscopes with them! They looked at pond water and some of our algae under a microscope and saw lots of cool organisms!
5th: They finished off their week by calibrating the bomb calorimeter and running it with the small amount of dry algae they got! Stay tuned for results next week!!
Happy late Fourth of July! While they were still struggling to clean old hemocytometers, the research team noticed PBR two (the one that didn't leak) started leaking. Thus ends the second photobioreactor trial. Fortunately, they salvaged about 2 liters, and it seems to be going strong!
This week was a full of experiments. The team attempted an experimental procedure to calibrate the spectrophotometer; to do this, they took ten samples, diluted nine of them to 90%, 80%, etc. concentration, counted the cells, and took a reading from the spectro. These results were graphed and analyzed, and they did not look good. The cell counting was by far the least accurate, with 90% concentration being higher than 100% concentration! To correct this, they plan on redoing the experiment, but sampling once and diluting from there. The spectrophotometry results were spot on, however. The "expected" absorbency, the absorbency calculated by taking the respective percentage of the absorbency at 100%, was very close to the results.
In other news, Bristol medium and a glycerol solution have been prepared for the photobioreactors, which will be seeded later today.
This week consisted of a whole lot of waiting... The research team took lots of measurements to check for algae growth. While the algae was definitely growing, it wasn’t as fast as they had expected. So they did lots of reading and experimenting to try to understand why that is. Here is the current graph of our hemocytometer readings!
They also finally fixed PBR 1, so it will be ready to go for the next cycle!
Exciting news! This week, on Wednesday, the research group got the PBR's loaded! Each PBR contains 5 L of solution which is comprised of... 65 ml of algae, and Bristol concentrate (freshwater substitute) and DI water on a 1:9 ratio. Unfortunately, they came in Thursday morning to see PBR 1 had leaked and lost about 1/4 L of liquid. They tried their best to repair the leak, but despite their best efforts the leak persisted. On Friday afternoon they made the call to take PBR 1 out of this round of the experiment. They moved 2 L of solution from PBR 1 -> PBR 2, then discarded the rest of the solution.
Picture: PBR 2 on Friday afternoon
Week 4 was our most exciting week thus far! The team checked on the algae each day and over the week the opacity greatly increased and the liquid became far greener. The pictures below are from day 1 and day 8.
In addition the team finally got the PBR's fully ready to go! The lights are attached, everything is water tight, and they are in position. Now the team is just waiting on enough algae to grow so they can put it in the PBR's.
Starting week three the group was feeling confident in their design and the project felt like it was "getting off the ground." They built both PBR's and sealed them with silicone to make sure they were water tight. They also got the original strand of Chlorella vulgaris algae and put it in Proteose Medium in a fermentation jar. They put an extra hole in the top of the jar and fed an air stone through to make sure the algae was getting CO2. They hope to grow enough algae to put it in the PBR's sometime next week!
Beginning week two there were still many problems that the group had to solve. Therefore, they continued with their preliminary research. They figured out what sort of light they wanted to use, and the final design for the PBR's, ex..
This week, being the first week, mainly consisted of preliminary research and no lab time. The research group worked on figuring out how to begin the project. They figured out starting materials, basic procedures, and conditions for the algae. They also explored problems they may run into along the way.