Tied to two females and more will follow… – Preparations for rotifer resurrection ecology

My science: all about bags of mud

Today I felt like going on a first (blind) date: being nervous and excited at the same time. Or perhaps this is more what marriage feels like: eager to be tied to your partner(s) for the coming years while knowing it has a high change of being a love-hate relationship. Today, my diapausing females arrived.

They were brought to our lab by Diego Fontaneto and Stefano Gerli of the Istituto per lo Studio degli Ecosistemi. Just like a first date I didn’t know what to expect, and I couldn’t trust that the outside would be a representation of the inside (which of course is the most important part): I was given bags of mud.

The mud comes from different layers of the sediment cores obtained from Lake Orta in Italy. This mud harbours the resting eggs (diapausing females) of the rotifers I will be using to investigate the relative contribution of ecological and evolutionary processes involved in the populations’ responses to changing environments. More information on how I will use resurrection ecology to address this topic will follow hopefully relatively soon.

Resting egg of Brachionus calyciflorus
Resting egg of Brachionus calyciflorus

Diego and Stefano taught us the necessary knowledge and skills on how to extract the eggs from the sediment. As I expected to find a lot of eggs in the mud, I had already designed a small experiment to be able to put the females directly to scientific use. However, in the small sample we investigated, we could only find 2 resting eggs of the rotifer species I will be using (Brachionus calyciflorus). As this is by far not enough for a proper experiment, we decided to put the females on hold: we stored them in the fridge.

To make up for the non-exciting mud picture, hereby a picture of what everyone thinks Science is about: green bubbly liquid. This is how we culture our algae, which we use as a food source for the rotifers.

What Science is presumed to be all about: green bubbly liquid

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