Thursday, May 5, 2011

Microsatellite Analysis

Nate is back from his trip, and it sounds like he had a wonderful time with his wife while they were in France. He's been trying to get experiments fully completed and tied into neat little bows by finishing collecting and analyzing data we've taken in the field. We've been working on microsatellite testing for the past couple of days. I'm going to make you think back to biology class for a minute. Bear with me. Microsatellites are series of nucleotides (C,T,G,U,A) on DNA that repeat themselves and the number of these repetitions vary between individuals. By testing DNA from many individuals in a population and analyzing how many microsatellite repetitions they have, we can tell if they are interbreeding. We have collected 10 lizards from each of 8 different locations on the island for a total of 80, and hopefully once Nate analyzes this data in the lab, we can tell how much gene flow is occuring across different areas on the island. In order for him to be able to do that, his field assistants must do some dirty work.
1. Weigh and measure each lizard.

Weighing a male from La Mola
2. Photograph each lizard next to a color standard so we can analyze their color differences on the computer. Photos are taken from 4 different angles and a LED light is used to eliminate the colored light present in the environment. (In this case, our front porch)
Sometimes science takes teamwork

3. Cut a piece of tail off of the lizard. Don't worry, they regenerate (grow back)!
 4. Put the piece of tail in a vial to be frozen and shipped back to University of Miami for analysis.
 My Lizard Catch Count: 7


  1. What makes the lizards be able to regenerate their tails? Is it the same with starfish?

  2. I'm not sure. I'll ask Nate tonight and let you know!

  3. Hannah! This is SO COOL!!!! Don't you just love being a scientist???? @ Meredith- I don't know anything about starfish, but having grown up around lizards- they all drop their tails when they're scared and they all grow back...kind of cool actually, but I never thought to ask how/why that happens. Hannah- will you post that answer in your next blog???

  4. That's gross... were any animals harmed in this process? I can't believe you would be okay cutting a lizards tail off!!!