Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Invasive Mussel Project – Part 2

While the students have gotten the hang of pipetting, mixing and centrifuging tiny amounts of clear liquids, the real magic begins to happen as they prepare their mussel DNA for Polymerase Chain Reaction. Developed in the 1980s, PCR revolutionized the fields of medicine, anthropology, archaeology, forensics, genealogy and every field of biology that works with DNA. Briefly, it does so by targeting specific DNA sequences, separating the double helix, copying the target DNA, cooling it off to reattach the two DNA strands into the double helix and then doing it all over again. Automatically. Thirty-five times in three-to-four hours. Not only is the targeted DNA identified but because each strand … Continue reading

Posted in Community | Leave a comment

The Invasive Mussel Project – Part 1

Jenny Roberts had a hunch that our local mussel beds might be hiding something. As the Director of the Friday Harbor Laboratories Science Outreach Program (FHLSOP) she’d listened to scientists present lectures about a biological invasion in the region. Beds of the local bay mussel, Mytilus trossolus, were being infiltrated by the Mediterranean mussel, Mytilus galloprovincialis, which was moving north with warming ocean waters.  M. galloprovincialis was being farmed locally as well and there were reports of it in the natural mussel beds of the San Juan Islands. Unfortunately, for people searching for the invasive mussel, the two species are virtually identical. At the time, Jenny was in the process … Continue reading

Posted in Community | Leave a comment