Lab Day

In the last 17 days we have collected numerous water and soil samples from variety of different and very interesting sites. We have been carrying them with us as we traveled around Iceland until today because, finally, we have arrived at the laboratory where we can extract the DNA from the water and soil samples. The laboratory is at the University of Akureyri which is about a 15 minute walk from the hostel where we are staying.

This morning we took all of our samples and the DNA extraction tools and headed to the lab. The Geology students, all nine of them, and their instructor Dr. Kathleen Affholter joined us. The lab technician at the university did an amazing job of preparing everything our group had requested, we recently learned that he is from Ohio. The world is truly becoming a smaller and a smaller place to live.

The first thing we did today was a crash course in pipetting. Some of the students had never used them before. A lack of material led us to be creative: we generated an innovative tool for pipetting practice. At the same time, we made a Google document with a table of different values in microliters and opened it on our Nexus7s. The unit of measure used for setting up reactions is the microliter (µl). One microliter is one millionth (10-6) of a liter. So: 1 L = 1,000,000 µl, and 1 ml = 1,000 µl.  The students then practiced pipetting directly onto the glass surface of the Nexus 7’s

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We had three groups of students extracting the DNA from water, each group had 3 water samples to take care of. Group names were Russian Team, Viking Alpha and Kitties. We finished around 17:00 and checked one sample for the quantity of the DNA. It looked very promising, what is even more important is that everyone had fun doing the actual science. Tomorrow we are going to the Arctic Circle (Grímsey Island) and then on Thursday and Friday we will be back in the lab extracting the DNA from our soil samples.
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2 thoughts on “Lab Day

  1. Why did you put the DNA water samples on the Nexus 7 screen? I can see the drops are different sizes, but why put them on the screen?

    • Hello Christopher, what you see on the Nexus screen is just regular water. We put regular water on Nexuses mainly for pedagogical reasons so students can practice pipetting. It is very convenient especially since water does not spread because of the surface tention between water and glass. Here is where we keep isolated DNA from water and soil:

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