We are now known by all the staff in the labs as the Squid Squad, a crack pot of mad scientists/artists with an obsession for deep sea creatures with tentacles! Well we headed back into the lab after roughly 25 hours to check up on our squid and amazingly it had a faint glow to it again - that's a 100% success rate. It wasn't quite as bright as the previous one but there was definitely enough light to proceed to the next step, attempting to isolate the bacteria that we wanted from any others that could be there. To do this we needed some agar plates, swabs, some fashionable blue gloves and most importantly a strong stomach - by now the squid had been rotting in a warm box for over a day and has a certain strong smell about it.
The wonderful staff in the microbiology labs had already made up a number of agar plates and broth with the right concentration of salt and nutrients for our bacteria to thrive. So all we had to do was label and date them correctly and then use the swabs to first get the bacteria from the squid and then wipe it on the agar plates.
There is a proper technique to swabbing the agar plate, used specifically to isolate the bacteria, it is called a streaking technique, I have included a simple diagram explaining the steps to it underneath. We use this certain technique of streaking to try and isolate a single bacteria as there could be lots of different other ones that we don't want. The streaking allows you to drag out the selection of microbes that might be on the swab and get them as thin as possible so some of the bacteria are far away from others and therefore can multiply to form isolated colonies.
We all had a go at this technique, getting two samples from each area - the head, body, tentacles and the water. It was great learning these new skills and fascinating to see how and why you go through all of these procedures. When all the samples were collected we turned all the agar plates upside down, with the solution at the top so that gravity brings down the nutrients in the water after the bacteria have used the top layer. Then we put all the samples into a box to keep them dark again and put them into an incubator at 18°C to keep them at a constant temperature, they need another 24 hours to grow so we will head back tomorrow at around the same time and hopefully see some isolated colonies of bioluminescent bacteria.