Hi everyone, welcome back to the blog! Today I will discuss some aspects and the findings of a project I started last semester and is continuing into the present spring semester. First and foremost, I’ll tell you a little about myself. I am a sophomore here at KSU and am majoring in Medical Laboratory Science. I was not originally planning to major in this– but after a year of working in the Lee Lab, I have found that it is my true passion to work in a laboratory setting. Last semester, under the supervision of Anna, I started my own research project that compares two DNA extraction kits: one for expedient results, and the other a more costly and detailed method. My goal was to see if continuing to use the more time-consuming and costly kit (MoBio) was worth the time and resources, or the faster and cheaper kit (Phire) was a better alternative for researchers. The fungal microbes of interest and to be used in extraction for this experiment were derived from the Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) and the Golden Rod (Solidago). Fun fact: these samples were collected at our very own Konza Prairie Biological Research Station here in Manhattan! This was my first experience with extraction kits, and I was also able to work the process of gel electrophoresis with Anna after extractions were completed.
The ITS fungi sequencing data was presented back to me this spring. Interestingly enough, while the steps for extraction using the Phire kit were rather simple and straightforward, the MoBio kit prevailed after each kit’s sequenced samples were compared. The findings for the Phire kit were not all that promising. I initially thought there was a potential error in my preparation, but another individual who had used the Phire kit around the same time experienced the same low yields and sporadic results, hence supporting my findings. Fortunately, the data for MoBio came back with consistent/favorable numbers and high yields of DNA. While there is much left to do in regards to the bioinformatic side of my project, I have already compiled a significant amount of data to support which kit is better for future experimenters. I would love to be able to contribute to the scientific field by appending data for different extraction kits to aid researchers in the difficult process of choosing a kit, as I have come to find out is not always easy!
This spring, I was privileged to receive the Undergraduate Research Scholarship for this project. I would like to thank Anna, Dr. Lee, and Dr. Jumpponen for this opportunity and their endless support.