What happened?

My bacterial colonies are growing slower than they used to. This has been going on for the last couple weeks. I’ve been shooting the shit w/ the post doc about this while he’s waiting on grant stuff and while I wait for my bact to adjust to MIV conditions. I thought that because I’m working with brand new never tested before mutants it could be that they have a growth defect(which would be really cool because the gene protects foreign DNA from degradation, so it could say something about the nutritional vs sex controversy of competence), but checking on my records the WT has actually been getting slower. It’s annoying because it means my experiments take way longer than they used to, luckily it’s just growth and the thing I’m interested inis still rocking consistantly, but what causes this variability? No one seems very phased by this

This happens in any type of biological work with microbes around the world. Ecoli, yeast, whatever you work on in biology is to a little extend subject to the apparent will of the gods. There is a lot of consistency within the samples. The relationships between the different strains doesn’t change, it’s that their absolute growth patterns can but it happens in a synchronised manner, which is why it’s so important to have good controls. But on occasion things like everyones experiments in May or April just start fucking up just happen.

It can’t be related to the stochastic gene expression/cell noise stuff I talked about earlier, because any effect of noise would be drowned out by the magnitude of cells I work with. The post doc thinks variable environmental conditions within the lab, the air condition, people moving around doing different things, opening and shutting doors etc are partly responsible. It’s not unreasonable but I don’t like that idea, sure theres a lot of variability even in the best lab conditions but really the bact are spending most of their time in a consistent 37 degree incubator. I’d put my money on something big; like solar flares, sun spots, lunar cycles, magnetic fluxs, something along those lines.

Has anyone done a meta analysis of different labs around the world to see if there are any patterns to this variaiton? There’s a whole hell of a lot of raw data available to study. Do tissue culture people or virus people have the same problems?

We then started talking about theories of obesity and autism – point mutations, changing definitions from “billys just a bit dumb” to “billy has xxx”, and assortative mating in the modern world. I learned my two favorite theories about the evolution of homosexuality

1) Homosexuality isn’t actually an evolutionary dead end because gay guys still have kids, and always have. Gay guys throughout history have been breeders. same goes with gay animals. Being gay doesn’t make you infertile or stop you from reproducing, it just makes you have sex with men(or women)

2) Whatever genetic component of gayness exists actually is a fitness disadvantage in men, but is an advantage when it’s present in females. It makes women more attractive, and men homosexual. This could be tested by looking at the sisters of gay men.

I like these two a lot more than the group selection theory


Edit: I talked to Rosie today about the growth problem and I’m doing a side experiment today to eliminate all the potential reasons

– I’m running a fresh aliquot of my WT KW20 agaisn’t one of her KW20s and checking OD’s every 30 minutes

– I’m using brand new tube of NAD(a vitamin), along with fresh BHI

– I vortexed, pelleted and resuspended the cells before incubating. I usually don’t do this step but it will get rid of the glycerol


I’ll keep you posted blog

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