Introducing Team Microbe!

    DNA extraction
    Lauren Watel working hard at a microbial DNA extraction.

    Today was a busy day with both some field work collecting and filtering samples and lab work extracting DNA from collected samples. I plan to write more about those specific processes in an upcoming post.

    So for now, here's the PI, or principal investigator Byron to tell you a little bit more about himself and his involvement in this project.

    Species Journal

    Lauren at NE 14
    Lauren Watel checking out the thermokarst at NE-14, it was a beautiful day, clear all the way to the Brooks Range, with a steady breeze to keep the mosquitos away!

    Today we took a helicopter and went out a lake called NE-14. It also has a thermokarst like Wolverine Lake, but it is older. It was interesting to see some of the differences in the terrain and the succession and changes in vegetation.

    NE 14 thermokarst
    If you compare this thermokarst to the one at Wolverine Lake, this one is older and bigger in size, and there is more vegetation growing on the soils.

    While I didn't see any new species today in their living form, we did find some remnants of an organism that does live around this area, caribou!

    Caribou antlers
    We didn't see the live version, but these antlers and top of the scull are from a caribou.

    caribou species journal
    Species Journal by Lexi Mitchell.

    A Reminder

    My PolarConnect event is coming up this Friday at 11:30 AKT [12:30pm PDT, 1:30pm MDT, 2:30pm CDT, 3:30pm EDT]. I would love to have all of you join in to learn more about my experience in the arctic and Byron's research. It is free and easy, for instructions click here!

    Toolik Field Station
    Weather Summary
    Sunny, breezy, warmer with a few clouds
    Wind Speed


    Sarah Crowley

    Hi Lauren, Great video of Byron! Byron thank you for explaining your work, it was great to hear your journey into science. And yes, I agree.. microbes rule the world. Great Job Team Microbe!

    linda nolle

    Very interesting about the balanced relationship of "good" bacterial microbes and others that we see as not so beneficial.I wonder if my strep throat diagnosis means that some bacterial microbes became unbalanced in my system.

    When I took a powerful antibiotic for 5 days, I was much better. But, two days after completing that regime, I think the strep is back with a vengeance.
    Is there something for me to learn from this that relates to your research?

    Becky Bopp

    Lauren, thanks to La and John, I learned about your research project and have been following each entry with great anticipation. Your style of interpretation makes a very complicated subject understandable. I venture to say that this quality benefits your fortunate students. I look forward to hearing the findings of your research. How many years has this particular research been going on at the Toolik Field Station?

    Lauren Watel

    Hi La,
    Disclaimer: I am not a doctor! I am not sure how to quite relate this to my particular project, however antibiotics are an interesting group of drugs. You are right that strep throat is a bacterial infection and requires antibiotics to treat it. (Interestingly I did learn that often a sore throat is actually viral- for instance if it goes along with a cold- and is not correctly treated with antibiotics).

    Strep is caused by streptococcus bacteria that have decided to take up residence in your throat and start to multiply and cause discomfort. It is possible I suppose with the way you described above that you actually didn't have strep and it was actually caused by a virus... or that 5 days was not long enough to kill off all of the streptococcus bacteria in your throat and you needed more days in order to kill them off. However, antibiotics are not a drug to be taken lightly- as you mentioned your normal body microbial communities are extremely important to keep in balance. If we kill them off with antibiotics (they are affected too!) we could risk loosing some of their beneficial qualities for other parts in our body.

    Lauren Watel

    Hi Becky,
    Glad you found out about my project and that you are enjoying following along! This is the 8th summer of Byron's particular project, but research has been going on at Toolik in various capacities since 1975! They really have quite a good record of the ecological patterns experienced in this area, which is very important so that as they start observing changes they understand how things used to function.