Thursday, January 18, 2007

What I'm Working On Update

A new project has developed here in the last few days, which could very easily turn into a nice little "techniques" or "methodology" type paper.

Preservation of Tissue for Genome Measurement
Measuring genome size, at present, requires fresh tissue prepared in certain ways. The two most common methods of genome size measurement, Flow Cytometry and Feulgen Image Analysis, each have advantages and disadvantages in the types of preparation that must be done to obtain useful results. Neither will work with tissues preserved in common preservatives like Formaldehyde or 95% Ethanol. This makes it difficult for us to collect specimens in the field (since the animals must be kept alive until only, at most, a couple of hours before preparation) and to recieve samples from collaborators and other researchers in other places. So myself, an undergraduate student here, and my advisor have embarked on a series of experiments to try out different tissue preservation methods that will enable us to get genome-size measurements from intact nuclei. We're starting with that reliable (cheap and ethics-issues-free) biological workhorse, Drosophila melanogaster, and if we get something working, we'll move on to other insects and eventually other animal phyla.

The literature I'm reading on this could easily produce a nice Mad Science paper to discuss, since many proposed methods involve freezing and re-thawing whole organs from mammals, most interestingly (and madly), human brains.

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