In the cracks

"There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in"
- "Anthem" by Leonard Cohen

Friends, we are approaching the end of a calendar year, and I find myself feeling pressed. In many ways, the change of a calendar year is arbitrary, but I definitely have some projects that I don't want to carry over into another annum. The Porites spawning paper has finally been submitted. The zooplankton samples Sarah had been working on are done. Yet, I find myself spinning around, looking for something else I can accomplish before the year ends. I have to fill in the cracks between major projects with minor victories. 

This electrophoresis gel shows my minor victory. On the left 
side is a DNA ladder. Every band across the middle of the 
gel represents a successful a DNA section that I will be able 
to sequence. As you can see, I was very successful!
Yesterday, I had a minor victory. In this gap between large datasets, I turned my attention to some mysterious Arctic deep-sea specimens. I've been trying to identify them ever since collecting them in 2021. When I first saw the blue and gold orbs 2 years ago, I was convinced they were sponge larvae. DNA analysis proved that to be false, but a misreading of the genetics database made me think they were fungi. After corresponding with a marine fungus expert and several failed attempts at sequencing, I now know them to be oomycetes - a group of organisms that look like fungi but are actually related to diatoms. 

Normally, I would probably write the specimens off. They're not the sponge larvae I thought they were, so they really don't belong in my research program. But here's the thing: oomycetes are a ridiculously understudied group of organisms. We're almost certainly dealing with a new species here, so I can't just leave them behind. I have to see this project to its conclusion. 

My fungus guy, Brandon, recommended a set of oomycete DNA primers that could hopefully help me get a good sequence from my specimens. I used the primers in a PCR this week, and for the first time, I actually got good results! The primers worked! 

My next step is sequencing, so cross your fingers for continued good results. I'm actually super excited to delve into the realm of microbiology and figure out what this super weird-looking Arctic deep sea organism is!