It is official now: I am an aspiring microbial ecologist! What gave it away, is the following blurry picture:
Not convincing, you say? Think again, because this is the very first gel electrophoresis of my very first own PCR! A PCR, or Polymerase Chain Reaction, is the go-to technique to amplify and analyse DNA, and thus widely used in microbial ecology. If one wants to know the diversity of organisms that are too small to see with the naked eye, a PCR can help you. Studying the DNA of the organisms – and the variation in it between different organisms and organism groups – can give fantastic insights in that regard.
And let that be exactly what we want: link the aboveground patterns of plant biodiversity to the mysterious world belowground, where microbes wave the stick. But in order to understand this ‘black box’ of ecology, one needs a lot of lab work. That is exactly what is happening now, and oh boy, does that make me feel like a real scientist!