Dr Christine Fenton
and Michael Fenton,
Auckland University, 30th November 2010
found this workshop extremely
have given me a fantastic range of ideas to draw from and sources to
look at. "
of many happy customers...
The fascinating unseen
The role of microbes in, on, and around, us is becoming increasingly
important as researcher find these life forms in previously unexpected
implicated in cloud formation in the atmosphere. New anti-cancer
compounds have been found in Streptomyces
related organisms from the sea bed. A new oil-degrading
closely related to Oceanospirillales
has been gobbling up the oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Presenting the unseen world of microbiology to students in an
interesting way is very important. It is from this short experience at
high school that the spark of interest is
our budding young Geneticists and Microbiologists. The
included practical hands-on activities that could be used
in classroom teaching using resources that are accessible to
schools, while the emphasis was on operating within the Ministry of
Education Guidelines for Health and Safety.
The workshop ...
Mike Taylor was one of a
series of guest speakers breaking up the practical sessions with short
presentations about their research.
Other speakers included
Asoc Prof Gillian Lewis and Dr Susan Turner
A very well
resourced laboratory and a
School teachers and school lab technicians made the most of the one day
Isolating protozoa from termites ...
the Animals Welfare
Act, termites are not classified as animals so therefore are not
subject to ethics approval. Termites are live at the beginning of this
procedure so that the gut flora is still live and motile when we view
them under the microscope. In particular, the protozoa in the
are quite large and interesting to observe as they ingest what they
find in the fluid around them.
Termites are best known for their
destruction of timber homes in certain parts of the world causing $750
worth of damage each year in Australia alone.They
have also generated a lot of interest due to
their contribution of
methane (a greenhouse gas) to the atmosphere, and in particular, their
as efficient producers of biofuels.The
symbiotic relationship that exists in the gut of the termite is linked
important attributes.It has been
estimated that half of
termite’s weight can be due to the microorganisms in
highly complex, three-way symbiosis between protozoa, prokaryotes and
Decaying Pine trees are an excellent
of termites with the most likely species being found being NZ natives: Kalotermes brouni, Stolotermes inopinus, S.
ruficeps. You can collect a
clump of rotting wood the day before
Photo of cilliated protozoa. Note the particles of wood that have been
Video clip of protozoa from the gut of a termite showing cillia
sweeping the suroundings for food
forceps to transfer a termite from the rotting wood to a
petri dish. Use a dissecting microscope to aid in quickly
removing its head with a scalpel.
the termite’s gut contents using the forceps and break it up
using the tip of the forceps.
a drop of 0.6% NaCl solution to the gut material and then transfer a
drop of the material using a pipette to a microscope slide. Add a
under the lowest magnification compound lens, then progress to the 40 x
objective lens. (With microscope work you always start with the lowest
magnification objective lens first, focus, then progress to higher
from Dr Mike Taylor
rest of the programme
included looking at:
Plate pouring – what agar
which don’t and why