Christian Houghton & the Chemical Ecology Group @ AWI


This year I returned to AWI and worked two months with Dr. Urban Tillmann, investigating growth and toxin production in two Argentine-Sea strains of the toxigenic dinoflagellate algae P. reticulatum.  We made three replicates for each of these strains isolated from water samples taken on the Argentine shelf and grew them at five different temperatures. First we made a pre-culture, a subsample of which was transferred to a new flask to start the experimental culture, to make sure that we had isolated only the algae that we wanted to cultivate for our experiments. The experiments were started when the algae had grown to a final concentration of 250/300 cells per ml of medium.

Each day I counted cell numbers to assess growth rate at different temperatures, and two times during the exponential and stationary growth phase, toxin-analysis and the Rhodomonas-bioassay were performed. Further samples for oxidative stress analysis were taken in the beginning, the exponential and the stationary phase of growth, to understand correlations between growth of the culture and the toxin profiles. These samples were frozen and brought to Argentina for analysis. Cell counts and cell size measurements were done with an Axiovert 200M microscope. We also took photos of the algae outside structure. Bernd Krock started the toxin analysis with a liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometer (Agilent LC1100 and AB SCIEX API 4000 Q-Trap), and in Buenos Aires, Marcelo Hernando and Gabriela Malanga will measure different radical oxygen species with electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR)-spin trapping at the Institute of Biophysics and Biochemistry of the University of Buenos Aires. 

So, we managed to work in at three lateral project, all together, in a nice environment and a paper is already in preparation as a result of this positive collaboration. About my side-view, the experience was awesome with Dr.Tillmann and Dr. Krock, full of knowledge and very well predisposed for teaching.

Bremerhaven gave me a chance to live as I´d always dreamed: sports, barbecue and going out with friends were more or less present during my stay making life far from home, nice.

So that's all until now, hope to see you all soon!

Christian Houghton

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