Showing posts from February, 2019

Coral crusher: part 3

It is Saturday afternoon, and I am in my lab. My thighs and knees have that stiff-sore feeling you get after standing for hours, and my shoulder muscles are tense. I tilt my head side to side to stretch out, and I can feel a knot in the middle of my right shoulder blade. Out my corner window, I can see the hazy gray sky and the white masts of sailboats anchored across Eel Pond. Inside, you'd never know it was a weekend . I've been busy today. I've been working on coral samples Hanny and I collected in Palau . First, we extracted DNA from all of the tissue chips we collected. Then, we measured the  quality and concentration  of the extracted DNA. As you might remember, we collected two different species of corals - a brain coral ( Porites lobata ) and a branching coral ( Acropora sp.). Ok, so Porites lobata is easy to identify. It's a big yellow sphere; it's everywhere; it's distinct; you can't miss it . But branching corals are much trickier. Hanny an

Coral crusher: part 2

Friends, I am back home in Massachusetts now and just as busy as ever. I'm corresponding with colleagues about new proposals we should write together. I'm finishing up old papers to get them ready for publication. I'm exploring new ideas for projects I want to do this summer. And I'm busy crushing corals . Truth be told, I'm making a lot of progress. In fact, Hanny and I have now successfully extracted DNA from each of the coral samples we collected in Palau -  260 of them in all. Our next step is to decide which technique we want to use to analyze the DNA. There are two options - microsatellites and RAD. Microsatellites are commonly used in forensic analysis and paternity tests, but RAD is a newer technique that gives more precise results. Both can answer the same question - to what extent populations of corals are connected - but they go about it in different ways. The NanoDrop data output The decision to use one technique over the other will come down to