This past week and a half of life in the Perry lab has been rather exciting. We've recently welcomed a new Ph.D.-track Biology grad student, Cory Henderson, as well as a visiting undergrad student from Howard University, NaTazah O'Neil, who will spend the summer with the Perry lab to get some bioinformatics experience. I've been working with Cory for the past few days on a rather interesting task: how best to extract the DNA from a body louse (plural = lice).
One of the first steps to beginning a new wet lab experiment is optimizing your protocols for your lab space, or vice versa. I say vice versa because sometimes the best way to ensure the success of your protocol is to buy a fancy new piece of equipment - one recent example from the Perry lab was a new speed vac concentrator :)
In the world of DNA sequencing, you have three essential components to figure out in the first stages of your project: 1) how to get the DNA out of your sample, 2) how to prepare your DNA libraries for sequencing, and 3) how to do both 1 and 2 in a cost-effective manner. Dr. Clark's lab mailed us 50 body lice last week so we could begin optimizing Cory's DNA extraction protocols.
Since we really wanted to try a few extractions this week and Cory's leaving for a conference in Zanzibar tomorrow, we decided to test our plastic pestles and electronic homogenizer to see how they'd get the job done. Pictured on the left are Cory's lice. Using sterile lab techniques, he would fish one out, wash it off, then add it to some buffer in a neatly labeled microtube for homogenization.