Business as usual, we set about plating the E. coli with transformed DNA, left on ice overnight, onto petri dishes of our agarose gel. Labeled with care, each dish had a specialized combination of antibiotics infused into the growth medium in order to promote certain bacterial colonies which had successfully taken up the plasmids. By comparing which colonies survived in the different petri dishes tomorrow, we'll be able to draw conclusions about the recombinant DNA plasmids we creed yesterday.
To complete our premise, we had to quickly adapt to working with flame in accordance with sterile technique. Time is your enemy and chances for contamination are deadly. The wait is just as tortuous, for we won't know if we applied correct sterile technique until we analyze the dishes tomorrow.
On a lighter note, at least I've mastered lighting a bunsen burner. I was always scared of it back in middle school at the CCC chemistry lab, but it was about time that I finally learned how to do it.
Between the incubation times, which allow optimum reaction time and test our patience, Jody introduced us to a video. The field of epigenetics is a real eye-opener. As denoted in the name, epigenetics transcends DNA and genes as the life code; rather, the actual value and complexity is in expression- the factors that determine which, when, and where genes turn off and on. The human genome project had only scratched the surface.
Possibilities are endless when systems of environmental triggers create profound effects on gene expression, translating into even greater impacts that affect development and even personality. I'm incredulous trying to fathom that behavior by one subject can change gene expression in another subject, and this nature versus nurture can be mapped with a restriction digest, with gel electrophoresis, with all the tools we have at our disposal. You don't realize how concrete cutting-edge science is until you actually get up close and personal.
Methyl tags, the same methylation reactions we've been working on in the lab, are at the center of this burgeoning issue. Essentially, they are activity instructions for what scientist had formerly thought were the sole instructions for life.