Monday, June 21, 2010

The Acid Fairy

The Acid Fairy has killed my algae. Each day I left the lab and the algae seemed to be growing happily inside their cozy bottles. Each day I would return and the bottles would be turning more and more acidic. The only logical explanation was that someone was putting acid in my bottles. Sabotaging my experiment right under my nose!

Or.... it's science.... this same phenomenon of batch algae tests going acidic has been reported in other published studies, but not really explained.... so the next step in our experiment is to try to determine what's happening. We have a few possible scenarios: the bottles are contaminated (which some surely are) with bacteria, bacteria who produce fatty acids as a byproduct, the algae are using the glucose we added and producing carbon dioxide, or there is a fatty woman in a ballet costume adding fatty acids to our bottles at night.

Tomorrow we will get to the bottom of this. we are being trained on gas chromatography, which will allow us to test for the presence of fatty acids. we may also look at the other bacteria growing in some of the bottles to see if we can identify it..... but i think i already know what it is..... Acid Fairy!

we've also started a mini-batch test to get a better idea of what happened. we inoculated nine bottles with algae and different combinations of nutrients, glucose, and buffer. however, we are not sampling to keep them sterile to see if the same bacteria invades the experiment.....

we should hopefully have a better understanding of what's happening inside the bottle microcosm by the end of the week.... or at least have a better idea of where to set our traps....

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