Return to the Açores – Days 4 & 5


Setting the scene

After the two days of worm collecting and preparation, the time was upon us to begin the processing of the samples. Individuals from the first day at Furnas had been depurated for 36 hours and were ready to be preserved. Given the nigh-on full survival rate all plans were on track. Freezing individuals for metal analysis and enzmology, and preservation for synchatron analysis took the first half of the first day with the progress becoming more rapid and fluid as the three of us became embedded in our roles. A trip to Riccardo in the Histology lab took the rest of the day, sectioning and fixing worms in formalin for the future histological work. With an anxiety-inducingly low amount of liquid nitrogen remaining we bid farewell to science for the evening and took in the local vegetarian cuisine!


frozen worm packages

Given the practice of the previous day, we flew through repeating the steps of the previous day with the Marcela worms in time for a late lunch. This left us with the homogenising of the individuals frozen on site as our final arduous task. Combining a rotating system of liquid nitrogen, a -80 freezer and two ‘smashers’ we started crushing the worms and decanting the powder into cryotubes. What began with slow progress became a well-oiled machine, allowing us to finish almost two-thirds of the worms in the afternoon/evening.

Tensions rose with the pressure, and a few what I assume are un-repeatable Spanish words were proclaimed when what appeared to be a tour group came stomping through our working room only pausing to take a few photos of us. With concerns on the Nitrogen levels becoming critical we laid rest to the day as more was arriving tomorrow to finish the processing. Just enough time to catch the last 30 minutes of the England Euro game as a reward!