|Algae culture room / magic bubbly colour bottles|
|Laminar flow cabinet|
To retrieve the algae from the stock cultures, we work in the laminar flow cabinet - this is similar to a fume hood (which protects the person working with it by drawing air in from the front so that any nasty chemicals inside the hood don't get drawn out into the air where the person is working), but it works the opposite way round (so instead of protecting the user from what is inside the cabinet, it protects what's inside by drawing air in through the top and out through the front - so nothing from the users side can enter the cabinet and contaminate whatever is being worked on).
(as the name suggests these
can also be used to count blood
Then comes the counting! You can count the amount of cells in different sized boxes - dependent on just how many cells are in the solution (so if there are thousands you might want to count in a very small box and just scale up the count at the end).
And then some maths to work out the overall concentration in CELLS/ML.
Now with harmless algae - for example some of the algae they use at the Fisheries Institute to feed the oysters - any waste algae can just be thrown down the sink....
..BUT WE ARE USING DANGEROUS ALGAE!! dun dun DUUUUUN..
|The terrible algae in question - Alexandrium|
This algae can cause PSP (paralytic shellfish poisoning) - which can concentrate in shellfish and, when eaten, can cause illness in humans. PSP can affect the nervous system and cause paralysis - severe PSP can even cause severe illness and death!
|Example of an Alexandrium sp. bloom|
Because the Fisheries Institute does a lot of work on shellfish we have to be exceedingly careful with the Alexandrium culture so as to ensure that we don't contaminate any of the feed algae or any of the water that could get into the shellfish. We also have to be careful not to put any Alexandrium down the drain in case it makes it's way into the bay at all - the Fisheries Institute (and especially me) don't really want to be responsible for mass ruining of thousands of oysters in the Bay! So all excess Alexandrium is carefully soaked up into tissue and binned - and the equipment we use will be double washed in alcohol solution. We will be SUPER CAREFUL.
When we counted the Alexandrium yesterday it was 70,000 cells/ml, and today it was 110,000 cells/ml! It's growing fast! And it's nearly ready for the experiment!!