We have now left tropical paradise and are back in Brisbane for a day before heading to Stradbroke Island, right off the coast. The last 4 days have been a huge blur of labwork (we were up until 4 one night trying to process samples, only to get up at 7 AM and keep working), but it was totally worth it and a lot of fun. I learned tons of new lab techniques and got to know my lab group really well! The four of us are looking at different aspects of coral health and how algae may affect growth and photosynthesis, so we're comparing coral protein levels to how many photosynthetic symbionts are living in their tissue, and how much chlorophyll each symbiont has. It requires a lot of cool equipment and LOTS of time investment, which is why we spent basically 3 full days in the lab.
Tessaly applying an acetone wash:
Diana using our spectrometer for checking protein and chlorophyll levels:
We used this spray gun to "water pick" all the live tissue off of small chucnks of coral skeleton:
Test tubes (we ran 110 samples total):
Running the centrifuge to separate out tissue and supernatant:
The magic sonicator that mixed our samples:
The weighing machine so we could compare surface areas of each coral piece to the number of dinoflagellates, chlorophyll, and protein levels:
And that was my research project!! Results will be forthcoming once I have a minute to sit down and look at our heaps of data. I'm excited to see what kind of trends we have (if any), although I think any differences between samples will probably be due to our errors rather than actual differences. Oh well. I also got up for a spectacular sunrise the last day we were there, and will upload photos soon!