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More reading and the start of lab independence (Week 2)

This week started out a little slow.  My mentor is off to present at a conference Monday and Tuesday, so she's been pretty busy preparing for that, not to mention the entire CMOP facility preparing for the arrival of NSF at the end of this month.

On Monday, I made up some TBE stock solution that we use for running our gels, as well as borate buffer solution.  Then, Mouzhong and I both amplified DNA using PCR.  I was able to make up my own master mix and try the procedure on my own which was exciting.  I realized that it's much harder than it looks and I need to perfect my pipetting skills so that bubbles become less of an issue for me.  After the DNA was amplified, we loaded our gels and I went home for the day.

On Tuesday, Mouzhong informed me that nothing showed up on our gel.  This suggests that an insufficient primer was used and the DNA was not amplified.  We tried again; amplified the DNA, and ran it through another gel.  This time, there appeared to be contamination in our positive control (never a good thing), so Mouzhong had me do some troubleshooting by making up a new set of samples to run through PCR and then test on a gel.  I made up two negative controls, two positive controls, and then a negative control using a different container of water (incase the water we were using somehow became contaminated).  After running these samples on the cutest gel apparatus you've ever seen, everything looked clean. 

On Wednesday, we purified more DNA and I learned how to extract DNA from soil.  This is kind of a tedious process, with lots of centrifuging, but I find it very interesting.

On Thursday, I was able to extract DNA from soil all by myself.  Again, Mouzhong makes everything look so easy!  But I followed all the instructions and think I did a good job.  We'll know for sure next week.

Like I said before, Mouzhong is at a conference on Monday and Tuesday of next week, so on Friday I mostly just read some more primary literature on my topic.