Fun Fact – The French for bat is chauve-souris – ‘bald mouse’ !!
Day 2 in the Bat Lab and with our DNA extraction complete, we are ready to see if our samples contain enough DNA to progress to the next stage. To analyse the DNA, we use a NanoDrop which is a spectrophotometer but for microvolumes. We are using 1ul of sample which seems petrifyingly tiny but is packed full of information. Loading the samples onto the NanoDrop requires a combination of a steady hand and a deft touch but somehow we manage and are samples are good enough to progress to the next stage – PCR.
Eager to learn more, Olivia and I spend the afternoon preparing our samples for PCR which stands for Polymerase Chain Reaction. PCR is a method for amplifying a specific region of DNA. The link below is for a You Tube clip which explains how PCR works. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEcy9k_KsDI
We need to make up a reaction mixture in which to place our DNA samples. The mixture itself is made up of: Autoclaved distilled water, PCR buffer, dNTP mixture, MgCl2, Primer mix and Taq DNA Polymerase. So under the watchful eye of our fantastic teacher Dr. Lao and working within a Laminar Flow cabinet to avoid potential contamination we undertake to complete the task in hand.
After adding our DNA samples into the buffer (the volumes that we are working with have progressed from petrifyingly tiny to petrifyingly miniscule!!) we are ready to load our samples onto the PCR machine.
With fingers and toes crossed that our experiment will work, we head home after another fantastic day. Can’t believe that it is only Day 2 and we have already learned so much. Thanks Dr. Lao