BISC314:Full Protocol

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BISC314: Environmental Microbiology


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Laboratory Protocols

LAB #1: Learning Sterile Technique and Field Trip to the Cheese Shop

Today we will be taking a trip in to Cambridge to visit Formagio Kitchen, a famous cheese shop in the area - they even have a cheese cave! Each of you will pick a cheese to be your microbial habitat for the next few weeks. We will sample a large variety and learn about where these cheeses came from. Let's be sure we have representative cheeses from these four main classes:

1. A blue cheese
2. A fresh cheese
3. A washed rind cheese
4. A soft, brie-like cheese

Back in the lab, we'll review sterile technique and inoculate media of various kinds from our cheese rinds. We will isolate a beautiful array of different microbes (both eukaryotic and bacterial) from these cheeses and in the next few weeks you'll be using them to investigate two major microbial community functions: growth interactions and chemical signaling.

LAB #2: Macroscopic and Microscopic observation of Isolates

You will have many different colonies growing up on your plates from last week. In your lab notebook, take some time to look at your colonies and describe their morphology, color, and smells! Does your Camembert inoculum smell like Camembert? You may find the following link useful for colony morphology descriptions: ASM MicrobeLibrary

Let's also look at our isolates under the microscope. We will make smears of our organisms next. Before we get to that point, however, it's worth discussing cellular morphology a bit. For the most part, bacteria are much smaller (0.2 to 4 µm) than eukaryotes (~100 µm). We will be using the 100x objectives to see bacterial morphology under the scope. You may be able to see the shapes of many eukaryotes you've isolated under 40x magnification.

Bacteria come in many different shapes (see this Wikipedia article for a nice figure depicting different shapes). These shapes are not, however, good indicators of relatedness or even species type. Many bacteria can be multiple shapes (termed pleomorphism) depending on how you grow them or from what conditions they are isolated. However, traditional names for bacteria often elude to their shape: for example, Vibrio fisheriis a curved (vibrio) bacterial organism.

You will make smears of all of your isolates. First, look at all of your isolates and determine if they are bacterial or eukaryotic. Can you think of a way to test if you are correct? In your lab notebook, note the shape and size of each isolate.

Making a Smear

1. Label a clean, glass slide with a graphite pencil on the far left of the slide with the code name of the isolate. For example, my 2nd isolate will be my initials followed by the number 2 (IN-2)
2. Place a small loopful of deionized water on the slide as far from each other as possible.
3. Flame the loop, allow it to cool for a few seconds and touch the cooled loop to a colony of your isolate, picking up a TINY bit of white growth from the bacterial colony. An invisible amount of growth obtained from just touching the cooled loop to the colony is fine.
4. Place the loop with the bacterial growth into the drop of water on the slide. Use a circular motion to make a smooth suspension of the bacteria in the water. Stop when there is a circle of emulsified bacteria about the size of a nickle on the slide. 5. Reflame the loop.
6. Add a coverslip to your slide and take it over to the microscope -it is ready for viewing!