Team Snail is Go!

Wednesday 22nd June saw this month’s meeting of the DIYBio group. Because there’s so much different stuff happening in the group these days, we decided it would be good to concentrate people’s efforts on things they were most interested in. So ‘team co-ordinators’ volunteered to lead teams to work on specific projects that we’ve come up with.

Team Kit will be developing home made versions of the lab equipment that is used for DNA fingerprinting. The plan is to compare them to the professional versions, and perhaps use them to do some exciting experiments!

Team Microbe are continuing the work started by the whole group on the Manchester Microbe Map. The data is all in, but needs to be analysed and visualised so that it can be read easily in a way that tells us something interesting.

The major excitement of the evening came with the arrival of the DIYBio snails, to be managed by Team Snail! We were kindly donated some tanks, and the pet shop were only too happy to give us snails – they get rid of them as they are pests. They had only just cleaned out the tanks so we only got a few, but our ‘Queen of Snails’ will go back and get some more over the next few weeks.

The plan is to let the snails breed until we have a decent sized starter population, and then begin a selection experiment. The darkest or lightest snails (the selection criteria hasn’t been completely decided yet) will be removed to the second tank, and then over the weeks the snails that are ‘voted out’ will be removed to the non-selective tank. Hopefully, our selection tank snails will start to show a visible difference in the direction we’re selecting for.

Keep an eye out for SnailCam to see the experiments progress! You can also follow them on @TeamSnailMCR.

We ended the meeting with a discussion of E.coli and other microbes, inspired by the recent outbreak of a nasty strain in Germany, talking about how this ‘underappreciated organism’ is useful in all sorts of areas and only becomes a problem if it turns up in the wrong place or gains the ability to produce toxins. For a full write up of the discussion, see the mailing list.

If you want to get involved in any of these projects, or take part discussions and suggest new topics, join the mailing list and come to next month’s meeting! —-

Written by Naomi Jacobs

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