July 10, 2019
It is known that dormant brine shrimp cysts can survive most any conditions, whether it be extreme weather, a violent environment, or even outer space. However, are adult brine shrimp as durable?
A few months ago, Erin, one of our lab technicians at Algae Research Supply, performed an experiment on our Brainy Brinys. She wondered what would happen if she launched adult brine shrimp in a model rocket. Would the brine shrimp survive the force?
So, Erin and her model rocket team brought a 50mL centrifuge tube full of algae and brine shrimp to their rocket launch, wrapped the tube in protective gear (bubble wrap), and set for launch. The team used an F50-6T motor, meaning the motor is of the F class, has an 80 newton-second impulse, and deploys a parachute 6 seconds after launching.
The team loaded the rocket on the launch pad, hoping for the best, but not knowing what to expect. They launched the rocket, watching it rapidly ascend to the sky. The rocket’s descent was smooth, and, once it was safe, the team went to collect their rocket.
The altimeter read out that the rocket reached apogee (its peak) at 1,000 feet. After the motor was removed, the team worked to remove the centrifuge tube from the rocket and bubble wrap.
The Brine shrimp were still swimming in their habitat, appearing to have no damage from the intense ride they had. Brine shrimp may not be indestructible, but they are incredibly tough.
Erin F. Fox, 2019
Check out the videos we made of our experiment!
July 10, 2019
We interviewed Shana Miller, an international fish conservationist for The Ocean Foundation to learn about careers in environmental conservation, and what conservationists believe is top priority in educating the next generation.
Algae Research Supply’s Interview of Shana Miller
I work in international fisheries conservation for a Washington, DC-based environmental group called The Ocean Foundation.
The ocean is my livelihood but also my passion. As a child, the ocean was a seemingly limitless playground of swimming, boogie boarding and sandcastles. When I was in college, I started fishing and even worked a summer as a first mate on a charter boat. That led me to research the many threats to the ocean and its inhabitants. I’ve never looked back, working in marine science and conservation ever since.
Many people think that marine biologists scuba dive and frolic with dolphins all day long. Not me, unfortunately! I spend my days at a computer – translating science into understandable policy positions, promoting fish conservation to government officials all over the world, and writing, writing, writing – from blogs to policy briefs to scientific papers.
Fish are a major source of protein, employment, and recreation in every region of our planet. By working to conserve fish from the top to the bottom of the food chain, I strive every day toward a sustainable future for our ocean ecosystem and we humans that depend on it.
I studied biology at Cornell University and then went on to get my Master’s degree in marine biology at Stanford University.
My favorite undergraduate class was Neurobiology & Behavior. It had a significant laboratory component that involved various surgical procedures on animals to see how it affected their behavior. We learned firsthand the parts of the brain that control anything from rat learning to bird song. My favorite graduate class was fisheries law. I loved learning about the framework that governs both domestic and international fisheries management.
For as long as I can remember, Jane Goodall has been my hero…for her bravery and pioneering research, for her commitment to conservation of her beloved chimpanzees and beyond, and for her ability to communicate the wonder of nature and urgent need for action to diverse audiences all around the world – young and old, environmentally conscious or not. I’ve also had the privilege of working for three very strong, innovative, and impassioned women, who’ve shared their knowledge but also believed in my own ability to go out into the trenches and succeed. These mentors all inspire me to learn more, explore deeper and push harder.
What areas would you advise students to explore as career paths?
What do I tell my science-loving boys? Fisheries science! In the marine biology/management fields, that’s where I think there’s the most job demand. Fisheries scientists use sophisticated mathematical models to determine how many fish there are currently and how many fish can be caught to ensure a profitable but sustainable fishery into the future. Yes, it’s a lot of number crunching on a computer, but fisheries scientists also get to travel all over the world presenting and implementing their work.
I think there should be more focus on foreign languages. Our world is getting more and more connected, making it that much more critical to be able to communicate in multiple languages, yet most American schools don’t place much priority on learning other languages. Whether you work in international business or international fisheries, the ability to speak other languages fluently is a highly desirable skill.
Passions start early. Continued investments in STEM education are vital. I have 10 and 12-year old boys, and the focus on science is much greater than when I was a kid. When asked about their career aspirations, many kids say that they want to be doctors, paleontologists, aerospace engineers, and of course, marine biologists. Not only do they know they want to work in science, but they even know which specialties interest them. The extracurricular activities and summer programs help to solidify those interests into passions and hopefully one day into careers. That would be my advice – follow your passion. We adults spend too much time at work to not be passionate about it. Find your love, research it, do an internship in the field, take relevant classes, immerse yourself in it, and enjoy every minute of it. Or at least most of the minutes!
Erin F. Fox, 2019
June 18, 2019
Erlenmeyer flasks are recognizable from their basic characteristics: flat bottom, conical body, and long, cylindrical neck. They are named for German chemist Emil Erlenmeyer.
Though the Erlenmeyer flask pictured above is what comes to mind when most people think of flasks, there are actually two different types of Erlenmeyer flasks.
The initial type of Erlenmeyer Flask is merely the flat- bottomed, conical flask that we recognize. This is used to host reactions, phase changes, or just hold solutions until further need. This is the most common type of flask in most labs.
The other type of Erlenmeyer flask is one with a textured base. This type of flask is used for when the flasks are placed on shaker plates, which are meant to mix/ agitate a solution to ensure it doesn’t separate. The rougher bottom of the second type of Erlenmeyer flask is meant to increase its grip strength, so it doesn’t shift on or slide off the shaker plate.
Erlenmeyer flasks are great fro algae culturing due to their high surface area and volume. When culturing in an Erlenmeyer flask, use wadded paper towels as a stopper or an aluminum foil cap in order to keep debris out of the culture, but still allow airflow. Happy Culturing!
- Erin F. Fox, 2019
June 18, 2019
Sorting through nerdy jargon: how to sound like a real scientist. Many people outside the science world use the terms ‘flask’ and ‘beaker’ interchangeably. While both tools are often used in a science lab, they are actually quite different.
Flasks are notable for their unique shape: a rounded vessel and a cylindrical neck. Flasks can be used for holding and measuring solutions, as well as for chemical reactions and phase changes (heating, cooling, etc). Flasks are normally the site of chemical reactions, for the reaction can take place in the large vessel and have low risk of spilling due to the long, narrow neck of the flask. Furthermore, flasks have the ability to be capped or corked, therefore solutions can be held for long periods of time without risk of spilling.
Beakers, on the other hand, are cylindrical containers with a flat bottom and a spout on top. These are also used when performing experiments, to hold various liquids for either mixing or disposal. The main differing characteristic between a flask and a beaker is that beakers have straight sides, rather than slanted sides like a flask. Beakers are mainly for measuring and transporting liquids from one site to the next. The spout on beakers makes pouring their contents easy, which makes them invaluable for performing experiments.
Flasks and beakers do share some characteristics. Both are made from either glass or clear plastic, most are graduated- meaning they have markings on the side indicating the amount of liquid they contain. Both are used during chemical reactions, and both are essential to a successful lab.
We hope this brief crash course in science lingo helps you to sound smarter among your peers. Until next time, happy culturing!
June 18, 2019
You’ve seen brine shrimp in our Brain Briny kits, but we think it’s time you get to know a little more about the life of a common brine shrimp.
Brine shrimp start as small cysts (the cysts that come in your brainy briny kits). These cysts contain embryos. There are different types of cysts: ‘dormant’ or ‘summer’ cysts. Dormant cysts and can remain unhatched for years, surviving harsh conditions with a tough, protective shell around the embryos. As the weather grows warmer, these dormant cysts absorb water and begin to hatch. Summer cysts hatch quickly after release, having only a thin membrane protecting the embryo.
After hatching, the brine shrimp are in the larval stage, called nauplii (singular nauplius). The nauplius are merely swimming heads with an undeveloped trunk, they use their single eye to go towards light in order to find food. The nauplius will eat whatever algae, bacteria, or debris it can fit into its mouth parts, using its antennae to swim towards and move material into its mouth. As the brine shrimp continue to grow, their trunks grow longer, paddle- like limbs (thoracopods) are developed, and two compound (bug-like) eyes are developed. These developments allow the brine shrimp to swim faster and see more clearly.
In the juvenile stage, the brine shrimp look like small adults. Their thoracopods are fully functional, and those limbs take over the swimming, breathing, and feeding actions the antennae used to do. The antennae also shrink, for they are not needed as much. The males and females begin to develop differently in this stage. Females begin swelling below their limbs, developing a ‘brood sac’, while male antennae grow into ‘claspers’ to hold onto females during mating.
In the adult stage, male and female brine shrimp are easy to tell apart. Females are larger than males, and have visible brood sacs. Males do not have brood sacs, amd have claspers on top of their heads.
During mating, the male brine shrimp holds onto the female with his claspers, and fertilizes the eggs in her brood sac by depositing sperm into it. The female can live up to four months, and can produce up to 300 cysts every four days. Depending on the environmental conditions, the female will either release summer or dormant cysts, as discussed earlier.
Brine Shrimp can come to maturity in as little as 8 days, but conditions are never quite ideal, so the average length of the brine shrimp life cycle is 3-6 weeks.
See this amazing life cycle in action! https://algaeresearchsupply.com/collections/brainy-brinys
Source: University of Utah: Extreme Environments: Great Salt Lake
June 18, 2019
Our mission at Algae Research Supply is to save the planet (we’re total geeks, as you know), and that’s why we use recycled boxes. All this means for you is that some of the product you buy from us will be in a random cardboard box rather than an Algae Research Supply box. We ensure not to give you gross, broken boxes. We aim to give you quality recycled material.
If the box your product has come in looks used, that’s because it is! Not to worry, though, there is no difference in the quality of our product whether it comes in a used box or brand-new Algae Research Supply box. When we package and ship products, we use all boxes we already have first, then use new boxes as needed.
So, why do we reuse boxes? Our goal here at Algae Research Supply is to save the planet. While most of our planet-saving efforts have to do with algae, we also hope to practice conservationist measures in our manufacturing process. In reusing boxes we already have, we are using less new product, and therefore destroying fewer trees.
Reusing boxes is simple, we just save our boxes instead of immediately disposing of them. It’s easy, it’s helpful, and we hope our efforts contribute to conserving our environment. Even if it’s a small contribution, we are still working to save the planet, one box at a time.
May 30, 2019
The fine folks at NOAA are doing an experiment to try and predict how the algae bloom season will shape up. They are taking quantifiable factors such as nutrients (mainly phosphate) as well as rainfall and predicting where and when they expect to observe an algae bloom. A link to their work is found here.
We at ARS are grateful that these scientists are looking after our watersheds!
What do you think should be done to minimize algae blooms that contaminate our drinking water?
May 30, 2019
This is Emily Ignatoff, award winning high school student who used ARS algae for her science fair project this year on the interaction between algae and microplastics.
May 30, 2019
Wow. Simply wow.
Researchers at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia have found that some of the plastic lechates (chemicals that are used in the manufacture of plastics that can escape from the material) will slow the growth and photosynthetic rates of (arguably) the most important plant (photosynthetic bacteria) on the planet.
Knowing how our human behavior effects the environment is critical if humans are to remain the dominant species on the planet.
Plastic pollution is a global threat to marine ecosystems. Plastic litter can leach a variety of substances into marine environments; however, virtually nothing is known regarding how this affects photosynthetic bacteria at the base of the marine food web. To address this, we investigated the effect of plastic leachate exposure on marine Prochlorococcus, widely considered the most abundant photosynthetic organism on Earth and vital contributors to global primary production and carbon cycling. Two strains of Prochlorococcus representing distinct ecotypes were exposed to leachate from common plastic items: high-density polyethylene bags and polyvinyl chloride matting. We show leachate exposure strongly impairs Prochlorococcus in vitro growth and photosynthetic capacity and results in genome-wide transcriptional changes. The strains showed distinct differences in the extent and timing of their response to each leachate. Consequently, plastic leachate exposure could influence marine Prochlorococcuscommunity composition and potentially the broader composition and productivity of ocean phytoplankton communities.
May 30, 2019
We have had a few teachers and staff call us up and ask if they can buy things now (end of spring 2019 semester) and have them for the fall. The answer is yes!
After we get the PO from your team, we will send you all of the non-perishable goods (flasks, salts, Secchi-Sticks,ect) on our next shipping day. We will include a voucher/coupon for delivery of the algae and cysts when you need it. Instructions for the voucher are written on it, but feel free to ring us up if you have any special requests.
I would shoot for 7-days. As of today, we ship on Wednesdays and Fridays. So if you get the order in before Noon on those days, it will ship same day.
The algae culture is good in a cool place for a couple weeks. However, it will wake grumpy and will need time to 'wake up'- which could take another week. We recommend simply opening the bottles 1/16 of a turn. This will allow the gasses (CO2 and O2) to enter and leave the bottle making for happy algae.
December 13, 2018
This season is typically busy in the lab here at Algae Research Supply, filling orders, going to conferences, and helping supply resources and answer questions about science fairs. We are always excited when our algae makes it to science fairs as it helps spread the message of algae! One student, Christopher, has been working with our algae for a few years now and has had some success with his testing and wrote us to tell about his projects.Check out what he said below to learn about his projects!
Chris here; for the past two years I have contacted Algae Research Supply asking advice and supplies to help me construct my own algae experiments at home, and each time your company has provided me with service and one-on-one interaction that far surpassed my expectations. In sophomore year, using the cultures and supplies you helped me to order and provided me with, my first series of algae experiments received a third place award in my school science fair, a second place award at the Worcester Regional Fair, and a second place award at the Massachusetts State Science and Engineering Fair. This past year, thanks to your willingness to provide me with nitrogen free media and other supplies, I expanded upon my previous Nannochloropsis oculatta experiments so that I could compare the effects of nitrogen deprivation and carbon content on lipid production. That year, my work received a first place award at the school fair, a first at the regional fair, and a first at the State Fair; this qualified me to compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh, PA. It's been an amazing journey, and I couldn't have done as well without your guidance and services! Recently I returned to present my project at a competition at the MIT campus, and was deemed qualified to move on to the American Junior Academy of Science national competition in Washington, D.C. I felt that you deserved to know how much you had helped me, and how much of inspiration your work is to me
ARS is so happy to be able to support students in their research. We will publish more about Christopher's work next week, including his abstracts to explain more fully his work. Thanks for reading!
September 07, 2018