PuntSeq is a side project led by a few University of Cambridge PhDs that aims to determine which bacteria are present in the River Cam.
In July 2019, the PuntSeq team got together with the awesome Cambridge Biomakespace, an awesome biology makerspace open to all, to create a two day science outreach activity showing their procedures.
The data collected in this experiment, together with other collection sessions done by the organizers actually led to a publication on eLife: elifesciences.org/articles/61504 "Freshwater monitoring by nanopore sequencing" by Lara Urban et al. (2021), so it is awesome to see that were are actual being part of "real science".
Ciro knows nothing about biology, but since he is very curious about it, he jumped at this opportunity, and decided to document things as well as his limited knowledge would allow.
All participants chipped in some money to help cover the experiment's costs. Ciro suspects that this activity was done partially to help crowdfund the experiment, but it was a worthy investment!
The impressions you get from the experiment as a software engineer will be:
- OMG, this is so labour intensive, why haven't they automated this
- OMG, this is frightening, all the 8 hours of work I've just done are present in that tiny plastic tube
- Amazing! Look at that apparatus! And the bio people are like: I've used this a million times, it's cheap and every lab has one, just work faster and don't break you piece of junk!
- How to use an Oxford Nanopore MinION to extract DNA from river water and determine which bacteria live in it
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