Return to the Azores – Days one and two

The grand plan of the return journey is to harvest the earthworms which have been transplanted from the cooler and less volcanic Macela into the ever so volcanic Furnas site, with an abundance of CO2 and soil temperatures of 30 centigrade plus.

Our first day was concerned with logistics and organisation.

Seemingly inocuous tasks of deciding on the best method of transportation for frozen samples, writing out labels and a few dress-rehersals of worm freezing kept us occupied, and then everything was ready for the big day.

A jovial tone was in the air as we convened on the morning of the second day, which shrouded the fear and anticipation of those who had spent the last 30 days hoping that not all of the worms had died in the transplantation. The team of 8 (your humble narrator – Dan, Luis, Marta, Joca, Ricardo, Catarina, Carolina, Hugo) set out with all of the equipment. The hopes where that if (IF) all the worms had survived we would be flash freezing 3 in liquid nitrogen, 1 preserved in RNA later for tissue disection, and the rest were to be depurated, each with a final destination assigned.

First things first, soil temperature and CO2 levels were measured to ensure no grand differences between last month and this. Then, with intrepidation the first bag was tentatively peeled open to eager eyes. Worms were there and didnt look to distraught. We set about removing them in preperation for the rest of the plans while the other measuremets were being taken. 10 out of 10 for the first bag, then the second, then the third. Practically 100% survival rate in both the control and transplanted worms. Everyone was clearly relieved and were spurred on, even working through lunch without even realising.

Next up was to freeze the 3 individuals, and with a well oiled system everyone had their role to keep the machine turning so that it was done in no time. luckily the amount of liquid nitrogen held out and everything was home and cold in plenty of time.

Now on to Macela tomorrow for what we can only hope to be a repeat of today!



Happy faces all around!