Time flies when you’re having fun! I can’t believe I am already approaching Week 6 of TRIP. The past few weeks, I conducted my kickoff experiment examining the effect of valerian and constant darkness on female fertility. Using the female fertility assay, I quantified the number of embryos per female and the % hatching of embryos. More embryos per female and a greater % hatching indicate that the females are more fertile and produce more viable offspring. My results indicate that both valerian and constant darkness increase female fertility. However, I was surprised to see that many of the flies in the constant darkness vial died after the first 7 days, thus indicating the negative effects of a disrupted circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle). By combining valerian and constant darkness, not only did female fertility increase the most, but some of the negative effects of constant darkness were also ameliorated. Besides collecting data for my assay, I also learned how to collect developmental data by looking at the total number of pupal cases and then calculating the % eclosion (empty pupal cases/total pupal cases).
In addition to learning basic lab skills such as making fly food, making grape plates, and sorting flies using CO2, I have seen how science is a process of trial and error. Sometimes you lose a couple of flies when transferring flies between vials or have difficulty distinguishing between an unhatched embryo versus a larva — and that’s ok. Some skills are harder to master at first such as sorting flies efficiently. However, I believe with practice, I will be sorting flies quicker in the coming weeks. Since the moment I stepped into the lab about 5 weeks ago, I have definitely grown as an aspiring scientist. For this, I am grateful for Dr. Purdy, Dr. Leystra, the TAs Austin and Keith, and my TRIP classmates.
Looking ahead, for my independent project I am interested in comparing the effects of red yeast rice versus CoQ10 on overall health due to a personal connection to this topic. CoQ10 is a dietary supplement that helps improve heart health. My uncle takes various dietary supplements including CoQ10. After finding out that CoQ10 can be derived from red yeast rice, which is found in fermented red bean curd and other Chinese foods, I was curious about whether my uncle could eat foods with red yeast rice instead of taking CoQ10 tablets for similar health benefits. I look forward to examining this question in the coming weeks.