Category Archives: sea urchins

Some pictures in review


We had a bit of cautioned excitement but it turned out to be a false alarm with our mosquito transformation project (link).  To illustrate, the above image is what we expect to see with the mosquito larvae under UV light.  It is dark because we need to minimize the regular light to see the fluorescent pattern; plus we are limited to short exposures because the larvae move around.  Three is some autofluorescence in the thorax (green) and gut (red) but in general the head is dark.  We were injected a 3xP3 plasmid and we expected a green glow in a band in the head if the germline transformation was successful.  At the end of January Jolene found a few mosquitoes that looked like this.


The image is really dark because the larvae would not stop moving, so we tried to snap the image as fast as possible.  I am avoiding messing with the image too much because I want to present it as close to what we saw as possible.  If you look toward the top you can see that there is a green band in the head that was not there before.  This is kind of what we were looking for but it was not exactly right.  We expected 3xP3 expression to be more associated with the eyes and there is also red expression nearby.  Long story short it was not a successful transformation.  It appears to have been an artifact of the food and algae of the water they were in and it faded over the next few days.  Stay tuned, we are continuing injections and are now using a different set of plasmids...

In other news, I showed some images of newly fertilized sea urchin embryos and mentioned ageing them a few days to the pluteus stage (link).  We did that but I never showed any pictures.  Well here is one, but it is a little fuzzy because the little things zoom around in the sea water scooping up food; this one was rotating so the center is more focused than the exterior.


Aki has extracted RNA from them and it is being sequenced by a genomics facility.  He currently has over 9 million reads with over 16,000 genes from around the genome identified.  I am purposely avoiding posting too much online about his project before he has a chance to analyse and publish the results himself, but here is an image of a tiny part of the genome from his data, less than 16,000 base pairs.  This is the newly sequenced, never seen before, circular mitochondrial genome of Tripneustes gratilla, the collector urchin.


If you flatten the DNA out into a linear sequence and map the RNA reads to it you can see the relative expression levels of the different genes (the blue hills above the different features).


Zooming in you can see the individual sequences that are assembled by aligning overlapping sequences to reconstruct the complete gene sequence. Below is an example from the ND1 gene.


The bases highlighted in blue are disagreements due to occasional sequencing errors.  Sometimes these are common however and are due to real genetic variation among the individual sampled.  Here is a look at one of these sites, zoomed in even closer, in the COX1 gene.


There is a C/T site that is at approximately 50/50 frequency and these sequence reads are made up of a sample from two different individuals.  In other words this position is a real genetic difference among individuals that are out there in the population.

Finally, some time for some Drosophila pictures.


As the FRT/FLP flies emerge from the vial that was heat shocked (link) the mosaic pattern is encompassing larger and larger sectors (for a reminder, the eyes should either be all red or all white because the cells within an organism are (essentially) genetically identical; the cells in these fly's eyes are genetically different from each other).  The flies in these pictures were younger at the time of the heat shock (compared to the earlier post) so the cells that had the genetic rearrangement have larger numbers of daughter cells.  This gives us some indication of the physical pattern of relatedness of groups of cells on the body and it doesn't always follow what we might expect.