Microdissection and Coffee Don’t Mix
His name is Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, and that’s what he looks like up close, but from a distance, Chlamy looks like green slime. And for my lab rotation, I’ve been learning about different ways to manipulate Chlamy.
Last week I was learning about how to do tetrad analysis. You mix two different types of Chlamy cells together and let them cross, then when enough time has passed, they form little clusters of four daughter cells in a sack. Then you have to tease each of these four cells apart so when they grow and divide, you can study them individually. This is done with a high-tech machine, you ask, right? No. It’s done with a fine glass stick and a really steady hand.
Pushing the little guys apart has a learning curve to it, obviously, but I was pretty sure I was getting the hang of it – until Friday. All of a sudden I couldn’t separate the tetrads anymore. Every time I tried to set the glass stick down on the agar, my hand would jerk and I’d gouge a hole in the gel and kill all my cells. After trying every way of holding my hand steady I could think of (I looked like Dr. Strangelove), I couldn’t stand it anymore and went to one of the other grad students for help. She took one look at my plate, and the first thing she asked me was, “Did you drink coffee today?”