Hi readers! I have greatly enjoyed my first couple weeks of TRIP. Over the past weeks, I have learned so much including basic laboratory procedures and even completed my introductory experiment on female fertility. The goal of my fertility experiment was to study the effects of fenugreek and constant darkness on female fertility. In order to accomplish this task, I created grape plates, which are basically small plates primarily made of grape juice and other chemicals that flies like to lay embryos on. Before I gave the flies these plates, I stressed the flies and put fenugreek in their food. After being exposed to these stressors, I had the females lay eggs on grape plates and then counted the number of embryos on each plate. From there, I calculated the average embryos laid by each female. A couple days after that, I counted the number of embryos that hatched. After analyzing this data, I determined that the fenugreek increased the number of embryos laid per female in addition to increasing the hatching rate.
After gaining a basic understanding of the scientific process and how to conduct experiments with fruit flies, it was time to determine my independent project that I would focus on for the rest of the summer session.
After much thought, I decided upon my research questions:
Can exercise make up for a bad diet?
These questions have a personal connection. I enjoy exercising in all forms, especially through organized sports like swimming but also in casual forms like pick up basketball and bike riding. However, I find it quite difficult to maintain a healthy diet when faced with Ritas and Chick-fil-a at every corner! I know I am not the only one who faces this challenge. I have always wondered if my many hours of swim practice per week could make up for lapses in my diet! And, which is more important, a healthy diet or getting exercise?!
To simulate a healthy diet, I will feed the flies extra yeast, which is beneficial to them. For an unhealthy diet, I am giving the flies extra sugar, which is bad for them.
You may be asking, how do fruit flies exercise? Good question! Since fruit flies have a natural tendency to crawl against gravity, I can harness that instinct to basically force the flies to exercise. In order to exercise the flies, I have a somewhat complicated contraption set up which I call my “fruit fly gym”.
I am using a kitchen stand mixer to continuously hit/spin a bingo ball cage. I attached a fan speed control to lower the speed of the mixer, so it doesn't cause too much jolting to the cage. Inside of the cage, are the vials of fruit flies. When the mixer hits the bingo ball cage, the flies will be rotated/knocked, causing them to fall to the bottom and their instinct to climb kicks in. I plan to do this for 2 hours per day to simulate a work out session… Basically, exercise for the fruit flies.
I am very excited to get started, gather data, and see the results of my project!