Did you know that your human body is made up of just as many bacterial cells as human body cells? Yes, that’s right, you are 50% foreign bacteria! This is just one of the interesting facts a group of lucky Year 12 learners discovered at Massey University’s annual “Metagenomics Day” on Saturday 29 September.
The objective of the day: to extract DNA from soil samples and sequence the DNA in order to identify some of the millions of bacteria present in soil. Over a hundred learners from as far as Mount Maunganui College in the Bay of Plenty, attended the workshop. Learners used cutting edge lab equipment at Massey University’s Albany campus. They conducted real research, similar to work conducted by PhD students; their data will ultimately be used for a real project conducted by researchers, at the University of Auckland and Massey University.
Learners worked in pairs and were given their own unique soil sample. Highlights of the day included using pipettes that could measure tiny amounts – (as small as one thousandth of a milliliter); isolating and amplifying DNA from a unique sample of soil; and finally competing against each other to see who could name the location of an unknown sample of DNA (the answer was the gut of a bee)!
Three of Massey University’s Biology professors led the day, sharing with us their amazing research and inspiring us to learn more about the tiny, tiny, tiny world of bacteria and viruses.