Team:Macquarie Australia/Chlorofella

Lab safety

Lo! My cells hath grown!
A sea of specks, like ancient constellations
Innumerable, and ever doubling.
With each cellular division so to is my despair divided, vanquished.

Before me, my happiness in tremulous agar
Oh how I've transformed my cells, and how they've transformed me!
Plasmids taken up, and with them my heart
I reach out, drawn to them, attraction inescapable

Sweet contact, pure bliss, prokarya and eukarya unified as one
Softly, I wipe away the tears of joy, of science realised
In an instant my heart sinks, my ungloved hand drawing away from my face in horror

That was last summer
Coughing, wheezing, I glance out my hospital window
And with an autumn breeze fell leaves and a molecular biologist too

Gathered round a weeping crowd
Regretting this gloveless tragedy


Before me they stand, idle, empty, worthless
Shells without substance, unharnessed potential
Foolish phospholipid spheres with no function, no utility
An insult to the gods, sloth and greed as they feast upon my media.
In an instant my genes will give them purpose.

With thunder Zeus' bolt perforates their quivering sheaths
With the flutter of wings, Hermes our double helical hero flies to their hearts
His message in code, read in triplicate by cellular scribes and sculptors
These once weak and feeble cells now enlivened through transformation

Against an onslaught of peptidoglycan crumbling assassins only the noble survive
Those wise, the blessed, who took in and read my nucleic scripture
Those elevated and illuminated more brightly than Helios upon our earth
These gentle cells soar higher, higher and ever higher than Icarus himself and fear no failure for they are genetic perfection!

In ancient times our ancestors looked to the stars and saw their gods
Today we do much the same in the infinite specks that swirl and grow like galaxies before us in our antibiotic plates


As dawn broke we eager few prepared
Shivering in the cold of winter, in the icy depths of scientific ignorance
Before us an ocean, tumultuous and full of fury
With crashing waves and frigid gales we tremoured before our journey
Our voyage fraught with danger and unknown uncertainty

Our captains, veterans, had navigated these treacherous fjords before.
Insurmountable obstacles somehow overcome
Compasses in hand they had guided our predecessors to the promised land, to the meeting of champions!
Glistening gold bestowed upon our brethren, and soon upon us

Together we tremoured, uncertain though prepared
Varied backgrounds, our skills to be tested
Masters of alchemy, writing, the arts. Legendary orators convincing all of our worth, and of our noble voyage's goal

We left in July and soared with eagerness and ecstasy towards our port
Piece by piece our command of this trusted vessel fell into place
Tasks divided and unity between all
Our captains ever vigilant, guiding us home

With restless nights and tireless endeavour we grew closer
Land in sight, we now press forwards!
Before us our goal in vivid detail, we long to press on and someday soon ascend to the soaring heights of those before us!
Together, as a merry crew of dreamers!


A world of sad and sorry scientists
Spending day after dread filled day eluting precious proteins
Litres of solvent, and Litres of tears, for what?
Pitiful milligrams of protein

Precipitation, reverse phase, ion exchange, gel filtration!
An insane spiraling vortex of techniques, ever growing, incomprehensible
Which solvent do I use? How much salt? Chaotropes? Lyotropes? What pH???
Tears well in my eyes as I realize my proteins will never be pure

In the hospitals and labs recombinant proteins reign supreme
Saving lives, driving industry, macromolecular machines
But at what cost?
Tethered to their columns lab techs weep
Their unending labor and exhaustion, for the betterment of us all

If only it were easier...

14 genes, a perfect plasmid
This DNA the savior of time and resources
In the dark, lipids aggregate
And with light, protein purification forever illuminated!
Vesicles form, proteins sequestered, purification by centrifugation!

Our ChIVes, chlorophyll induced vesicles, these magnificent envelopes
They encapsulate proteins and capture our hearts


Day after day, before us they glow
With an aura of fluorescent light
Excited, they illuminate our curious faces
And enlighten mankind

"my cells glow strongly! " he says
Impressive RFU to be sure
But how impressive compared to colleagues?
The insidious subtleties of fluorescence oft forgotten

We recoil at the recognition that culture cell count varies
With growing disparity in CFU so too does the devil's smile grow wider
Between labs data is rendered incomparable, meaningless
And with it, my life

We must unify, and standardize
Fluorescence per cell, our savior mathematically expressed!
And yet we don't stop there!
Fluorescence standardized to know fluorophores!
Data, once obfuscated by methodological variation now clear as milliQ

Though how best should we standardize?
Therein lies our challenge
Fluorescence per absorbance
A reliable proxy or fool hardy corner cutting?
Fluorescence per CFU
A necessity or waste of time?
Questions answered through unified, ambitious interlab study