Monday, June 29, 2009

"Scientist Barbie"

Last summer I had a great research job and I learned so much there. One thing I learned was how to earn a nickname...all I had to do was show up to work and let the maintenance guys do the work. One day, my co-worker pulled me aside dying of laughter and said, "You'll never believe the nickname these guys have for you!" I was so afraid that it would be something awful that I wouldn't let him tell me for a week....finally he broke me down - "Scientist Barbie." Grief. I don't even look like a Barbie...

Anyway, today's post deals with another adventure with Scientist Barbie. Today we're learning about CF, or cystic fibrosis, and what their sputum looks like on agar.This is what sputum is - you're coughing up all of the gunk in your lungs, putting it in a transport tube and we get to plate it. Below is what bacteria looks like on agar. Seriously, we get all sorts of nasty, nasty, nasty crap in Microbiology.

Today I saw some nice runny, green-yellowish stool (aka poo). I told my teaching specialist I wasn't going to plate it. Ew. I let him do it.

A majority of today dealt with looking at the plates of agar a few days after they'd been growing and deciding upon what the colonies looked like.
You can identify bacteria sometimes by their hemolysis - the bacteria lyses or busts apart the sheep blood agar (heme = blood, lyse = burst); there are three kinds. Beta (the B up there on the plate shows a clear zone around the bacteria - sometimes you can see all the way through the plate), Alpha (the green-bruised color; its harder to see), and gamma which means there really isn't any. These hemolytic characteristics are really important to notice as a technologist - this helps you figure out what the patient is colonized with.
This is Streptococcus penumoniae, and if you enlarge the picture, you can view the beta hemolysis around the tanish-mucoid colonies. Some of these bugs have distincitive smells/odors also - Pseudomonas aeurginosa smells like grape kool-aid or tortilla chips :D Its easy to distinguish from CF patients, because its all mucoid and it has a metallic sheen on the colonies, appearing like an oil slick. This is a pretty exaggerated picture, but you can see the sheen across the top of the colonies. If the bug on the plate has the metallic sheen, characteristic odor, and zone of hemolysis, then the technologist can go ahead and report out that we have P. aeruginosa. This helps the physician - imagine having that slimey stuff in your lungs....not fun.

So, that's what we did today :) looked at lots of plates, decided what the bugs were, did some biochemical tests, and wha-la, the day is over!

Time to go running! See ya tomorrow!

1 comment:

Katy said...

Scientist Barbie!!! Snort!! Giggle! I love it! It must be those huge BOOBS you've got! hahahah!! I love you so!