April 3, 2012

Trouble Maker

In Micro Lab we had to swab two locations so we can determine what bacteria is growing there. I had chosen a keyboard in my favorite on-campus computer lab and my toothbrush. Once we had the swab, we had to put them in a test tube with nutrient broth so the little guys would grow. (By the next day, both tubes were turbid).

After the tubes got cloudy we then had to isolate the bacteria so there were individual colonies to work with. This was done with streak plating, and needless to say I will be an expert on isolating by the end with how many plates we have to do.

Once isolated, we could begin running tests which is where I am now. I have ran numerous tests and each time I always seem to make things "complicated." So much so my lab professor and TA have dubbed me "trouble maker." They are joking of course but let me share with you my most recent episode:

Last night, I went into the lab at 5:00 p.m. to start an oxidation fermentation test that will take 4 days. So far that one is okay but it's only been a day. Anyway, while I was in the lab to do the OF test I decided to do an endospore stain since I was already there. In case you don't know, some bacteria produce and release spores when their environment changes and they feel stressed. These spores are tough little buggers and make it so even if the "original" bacteria die, the spores can then go on to become new bacteria. When staining for endospores you need to boil some water in a beaker and then stain the slide over that, keeping it soaked in dye, for 10-15 minutes. It's really not that difficult and I did everything I was suppose to. However, the lab was closing as I was wrapping up and didn't have time to look at it under the microscope.

Which brings us back to today. After I walked into the lab, I went right for the microscope and began my search. All I wanted was to find some green dots in a sea of pink lines, but no such luck. But wait what's this? That looks green! And there's another! But that's it? I was thinking I might have to run the test again, but I called the TA over to see if those two little green dots were enough to call this positive for endospore formation.

He takes a look and is taking a long time...(crap, I'm going to have to do this again aren't I). What feels like forever passes and he emerges back from the microscope and says, "Those look like spores but let's ask Rob."

Ugh, here we go. Rob would be the professor by the way. He is awesome and is probably one of the best professors I've had while at ISU. But I always feel bad that I have to ask for his help all the time. He's great about it though, unlike some I've had which would have told me off by now, he just wants to help.

"I was hoping you weren't going to be here today, you always find a way to challenge me," he says with a smile.

"I know I'm sorry, I always seem to make trouble around here," I say heavy on the sarcasm. "I would be sick of me too."

He just laughs, "So what do we got?"

Brennan, the TA and I go on and tell him about how old the specimen was, how long I did the stain and that we only found a few green spores. "Hmmmm," he says. That always makes me nervous. I watch him as he scans the slide: left, right, up, down. After a few moments he pops up and tells Brennan to take a look by the pointer. "Mmmhhhmmm," did we forget how to use words now? Like the nerd I am I blurt out, "WHAT?"

Brennan moves and I take a look. Sure enough there's another spore, and another, and another. YAY!

You see, I really am a "trouble maker."