Characterizing the Drosophila Germline Stem Cell Niche: Future Directions

It’s been about 3 weeks since leaving campus and pausing my research project for now. Reflecting back on my summer of research, I am happy with the progress that’s been made. I helped develop a new process for imaging gonads in vivo using phytagel, found a type of FBS that supports gonad differentiation ex vivo, and optimized the tracking procedure for specific cell types within the gonad using Fiji Track-mate software. There were also come set-backs this summer. It was discovered that the flies used for imaging were contaminated. It was very important that we realized this though so that we can expand a clean line of flies for use in future experiments.

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Live Cell Imaging of Drosophila Gonads (Update 3)

The end of the summer session is fast approaching and so much has happened since my last post.

First of all, I was finally able to image some differentiating gonads! I found that adding 450 microliters of freshly aliquoted Atlanta Biological’s heat inactive fetal bovine serum (FBS) to my live cell imaging culture media supports cell differentiation. However, I didn’t see much growth of the gonad itself so I am still playing around with the exact formula for the culture media. I recently tried out using Shield and Sang’s M3 medium to isolate gonads and in my culture media in addition to the new FBS. Unfortunately, although there was differentiation of gonads in this culture media, the gonads died about 6 hours into imaging. I do believe the medium we had been using, Schneider’s Insect media, is optimal for the differentiation of drosophila embryonic gonads ex vivo. In the future, I plan on doing a titration experiment to find what concentration of FBS is optimal for differentiation and growth in culture media.

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Time’s Fun When You Have Flies

It’s been another couple of weeks in lab—let me catch you up.

First of all, I’ve started experimenting with different types of Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS) in the culture media I use for live cell imaging of isolated fly gonads. I’m doing this to find a type of serum that optimizes cell differentiation observed in the gonads under the confocal microscope. Recently, I established a set of control conditions under which isolated gonads can survive for 12 hours. I will use these conditions for all my trials. I then ran a trial using Sigma brand FBS and Optima brand FBS. Unfortunately, I saw no differentiation using either type of FBS. Next, I will try using fresh versions of each type of FBS since both versions I previously used were nearing their expiration dates. If this also doesn’t work, I may play around with different concentrations of FBS in the culture media and different types of insect media (another major ingredient in live cell imaging culture media).

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Sweet Fruit Fly Research Update

So much has happened in the past three weeks doing summer research with my lovely fruit flies. Let me catch you up…

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Abstract: Characterization of Stem Cell Niche Morphogenesis in Drosophila melanogaster testis

My name is Anna Westerhaus, and I am a junior Biology major at the college. This summer, I will work in the Wawersik Lab to discover the fate and morphogenesis of stem cells during testis cell niche formation using the model organism, Drosophila melanogaster (the fruit fly). Specifically, I will be mapping how primordial germ cells (PGCs) and somatic gonadal precursor cells (SGPs) in the gonads interact during embryonic development to give rise to the germline stem cell niche. I will track individual cell movements in the developing gonad through live cell imaging using a laser-scanning confocal microscope and analyze these movements with the help of a tracking computer program.

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