A Day in the Sherwood Lab

While a day in the Sherwood lab looks a little different every day, there is always one constant to start (and end) my day: collections! The minute we get to the lab in the BioSci sub-basement, we bring out our fruit flies to pick out the ones we need. These could either be flies to continue adding to a cross or picking out the F1s of a cross important to our project. This process also unfortunately involves unceremoniously killing many flies that we don’t need by throwing them into our “fly morgue,” or a jar of ethanol.

Here’s where the day can take a turn. Sometimes, if our desired crosses have started producing larva in the third instar stage, or right when they’re about to pupate and metamorphosize, we pick out those larvae for dissection. While I’ve gotten much better at dissections since we started, I still find it to be somewhat of a painstaking process given how small they are. Once we’ve dissected them into flattened, stretched fillets (a word I still find hilarious), we go through a process of fixing and rinsing them to prepare for immunostaining. Once immunostaining is complete, which takes about 2-3 days, we can look at them under the fluorescence microscope and look at some really cool synapses (see below)! While it doesn’t seem like a lot in writing, these processes take up most of my time in the lab. Recently, we’ve been looking at fillets and counting boutons for our project.

However, if we are between stages of immunostaining, or simply do not have the larva we need, my days look a little different. Sometimes, we pore over our crosses to check for errors or try to work out the mysteries of getting a weird phenotype from a cross, and this involves a lot of time staring at a whiteboard, wondering what could have happened. Other days, we’re looking over readings. Some days, we might learn about something having to do with another project. For instance, we recently crushed up some flies that we’ll eventually PCR to check for recombination. 

I end the day with evening collections, doing what we did in the morning, hopeful for some newborn F1 flies. No matter how our days might look, Jayden and I usually end around 6, walking out feeling satisfied with our work, but also tired after a long day of sitting at a microscope. Yet, I’ll wake up the next morning, excited to do it all over again.

Synapses! Photo by me 🙂

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