Yeasts are not only used in baking bread!
Over the two weeks spent in the laboratory I have learnt about how significant understanding and testing pathogens (particularly Candida albicans and Candida galbrata) is to preventing human fungal diseases being contracted. I spent time investigating the different strains of yeast at both a molecular level through polymerase chain reactions (PCR) which analysed the yeast strains DNA (see photo A) and therefore genetics alongside microscope studies and also visually by comparing phenotypes which Manduca sexta caterpillars (see photo B) expressed when different strains or dilutions were injected, monitoring them for changes in weight and colour.
Photo A: Agarose gel electrophoresis to analyse PCR products
Photo B: Manduca sexta
I had the opportunity to collect my own data which enabled me to see, from the beginning to the end of the life cycle how powerful fungal pathogens can be and relate that to the importance of all the studies within the lab to preventing illnesses. The members of the lab were varied, including PhD researchers and master students, all of whom have enlightened me as to the broad range of topics science has to offer and the overlap of many different aspects, whilst also explaining different pathways into their scientific careers which has shown me the vast amount of ways to work within the field and that there are opportunities to move on and complete different studies throughout your whole career.
Participating in this placement scheme, alongside Stephanie and other lab members I have learnt a huge amount in just two week and realised that the phrase ‘you learn something new every day’ really is true when working in a scientific career, with around 80% of experiments not actually working scientists have to be patient in order to achieve the end result which could one day save lives.
By Emily B