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Week 2: Heigh Ho! Off to work I go!

       There was barely any down time this week. I was almost always up and about doing something, because my project really got going over the past few days. This made for a very fast week! If every week continues like this, the rest of the summer will be over in a blink of an eye.

      Monday greeted me with results from the experiment done last week. The visual results showed manganese oxidation in all samples containing manganese, which was promising. The lignin, on the other hand, was a little bit confusing. On a side note, I realized that I didn’t properly explain what lignin is in my last blog. My understanding is that lignin is the strong, fibrous material in plants utilized for structure. But returning to the results, we tested the presence of lignin using spectroscopy at a wavelength of 280nm. This, however, proved to be very obscure and to be frank, just all over the board. At this point, we were a bit skeptical of the credibility of this test. In response, we put together another experiment which, in essence, redoes this experiment, but with a different media and an over control. The media used in the last test was lept, which has a lot of nutrients, in comparison to this different media. The minimal salt trace mineral media has no carbon source, not providing any other food, other than the lignin. We also used R. jostii, a bacteria known to degrade lignin, as an over control to test the accuracy of the spectroscopy testing method.
      Tuesday was a very long day. I looked at my samples from Monday and two conclusions were made. 1. The wild type oxidizes manganese in the presence of manganese and lignin, while the mutant does not, which was expected. And 2. There was more oxidation in the manganese plus lignin tube than just the manganese tube, which suggests that lignin might promote manganese oxidation. It was still early to tell though, so that test was returned to incubate for another day. Then for the rest of the day, I spent all of my time creating medias for more tests, which isn’t an easy task mind you. A good portion of the measurements had to be exact to the ten-thousandth of a gram. It also required making other chemicals to put into the media, which required other chemicals to be made, in order to test those chemicals. In short, it was a very long day of very tedious actions.
      On Wednesday, I looked back at my results, and not very much had changed. The ring of manganese and lignin, however, did not stick to the side of the tube as well as the tube just containing manganese, so something may be happening differently in that one. I was then able to use a media I created on Tuesday, by setting up another two experiments. The first experiment was testing how the P. putida species would react to different food sources. We tested none as our under control, lignin, cellulose, xylan, and glucose as our over control. The second experiment was an experiment I set up on my own. The week before, I inquired whether light (or lack of) affects manganese oxidation, but it had not been previously tested. So today, Kati assisted me in setting up an experiment to testing this variable. I used two different medias, and covered half of the tubes in foil, not allowing light to reach the sample. Both experiments incubated in room temperature over the weekend.
      Thursday was a very special day for CMOP. NSF was here for the annual site visit. We got to watch presentations given by researchers here at CMOP, and it definitely gave me a greater understanding of how my project fit into the big picture of coastal margin ecosystems. I also got to have lunch with the chair of the NSF site team, John Paul, and it was amazing to hear about everything he has accomplished.
      On Friday, we tried once more to use spectroscopy to analyze our results from the larger test done earlier in the week. It proved unsuccessful, as the readings did not have any of the general trends we were looking for even in the control samples. Then for the rest of the day, I learned how to pour agar plates for more tests next week. And before I knew it, it was the weekend. I can’t wait to see what else this summer has in store for me!