Week 1 in Friday Harbor

Hello! I just finished my first week at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Labs with my professor, Dr. Allen. Since I’m not at William and Mary for the summer where our lab is already set up, we had to spend the first few days here setting up our lab space and making sure we had all of the equipment we needed, including seastars which we collected off of the dock as well as from other researchers who had found some. Unfortunately, some of the boxes we shipped had some transit problems so we weren’t able to finish setting up the lab until Thursday. It wasn’t too big of a problem, though, and Friday we were able to start the first trial of blastomere separations in Evasterias, a seastar with relatively small eggs.

On Friday, when we did the first trial with the Evasterias, we were able to spawn both a male and female seastar, which meant we could proceed! Luckily the eggs fertilized and we were able to remove the fertilization envelopes from the eggs (that allows us to separate them at the two cell stage). Unfortunately, we miss timed the development, and missed the two cell stage so we were not able to sort any of the blastomeres. We tried again with the eggs from the morning, but since it was much later, they did not develop and  we had to stop for the day. While we weren’t able to sort any seastar eggs, we were able to remove the fertilization envelopes well, which gave us a lot of hope and knowledge.

Saturday morning we once again spawned a male and female seastar to do another trial, hopefully able to sort the eggs with the knowledge we gained about development time. We sorted 600 whole eggs, and 100 half eggs, although it was extremely difficult to sort the half eggs as not many eggs developed (we think the female did not have good eggs) and development past the two cell stage continues rapidly. Overall, the week was extremely productive and we are looking forward to more trials this coming week, hopefully giving us enough sorted eggs that we can raise the seastars to metamorphosis!