End of Quarter

    Using Polymerase Chain Reaction and Gel Electrophoresis to Test for Bitter-Tasting Ability
    I am doing this project with Allex Blacksmith and Justin Pham. Allex and I began working on this project in early September and Justin joined us at the end of September. We had a couple of goals. Our first one was to inventory and organize the biotechnology supplies and chemicals at the Energy Lab. While we knew we had most of the materials we needed to run our experiment, when we arrived they we stacked in three boxes while the chemicals were in the fridge. We inventoried and consolidated all the supplies and set up a space in the Monitoring Lab. My favorite discovery was that we had three automatic micropipettes. These pipettes are much nicer than the ones we normally use in class. We also took stock of which chemicals we had and ordered the ones we needed. Our second goal was to re-familiarize ourselves with the process of PCR and Gel Electrophoresis. Our thinking was that before we began any big project we should know exactly what we are doing from experience. This turned out to be a good thing to do as we had a few missteps alone the way. Our main problem was figuring out how to create a 2% Agarose Solution that we could run DNA through. We eventually discovered how to do it, although the process involved many more steps than we had originally expected! Either way, I enjoyed learning the process and practicing creating the correct concentration of the chemicals we needed. It's cool to be able to create an end result from only a collection of chemicals in a fridge. Now that we've figured out how everything runs, we want to design an experiment that tests something much more complex. Currently we are exploring ways to sequence DNA. This mean that would would figure out the specific base pairs (A, T, G and C) in the DNA of an organism. We would have to sequence only part of the DNA of an organism because the complete genome is too huge to sequence without the use of huge computers. We are especially interested in sequencing part of the DNA of an plant that is endemic to Hawaii and then comparing it to a closely related plant that has its genome listed in the National Center for Biotechnology Information Database ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/nuccore). If we were certified and knew that our work was correct, we could even add the DNA sequence to the database. We could also compare the sequenced DNA to other genomes stored in the database in order to see how closely related an endemic species is to other related species.