If you build it, the weevils will come

Let’s face it – not everyday in the life of a scientist is filled with exciting and important discoveries. (And if this is not true for you – please share your secrets with me!)

Friday- My to-do list consisted of:

  1. Training a new undergraduate intern on processing frozen weevils (aka- smashing frozen weevils with plastic pestles in DI water) , and dissecting the weevil-mush (aka- homogenate) under phase contrast at 400x to look for microsporidia.
    • Footnote: Microsporidia by the way are hands-down the cutest parasites in the world. They are like little shiny hotdogs doing a waggle dance under the microscope. Then they become cooler if you imagine sunglasses on them. Ok.. I might be the only person that thinks this-  as several other researchers have voted for other parasites as #1 cutest…

Below is a photo of microsporidia (Nosema fumiferanae postvittana subsp.n.) from the Light Brown Apple Moth that I took during my PhD work. The mature spore form of the microsporidia in the weevil, Neochetina bruchi, look very similar under the microscope. .but so far I have not been finding high intensity infections … rather just 1-2 spores per slide for each weevil. Thus you can imagine it would be hard for a new intern to spot these little critters amongst all the other junk in a dissected bug.

 

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Photo from my PhD work on: Nosema fumiferanae postvittana, a microsporidian pathogen in the Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana)

2. After training my new undergraduate intern, and a quick lunch- I proceeded to spend about the next 4 hours (can you believe that?! 4 hours?!) building a large cage for a bunch of weevils that an amazing technician brought back from the field for me. I had to build a large cage to make sure the weevils don’t fly off these plants and start eating other water hyacinth plants that were specifically being maintained as ‘healthy/clean’ for experiments.

The goal is to mass rear ~ 8000 weevils before February among these tanks and some others that I have going right now…. fingers crossed!

 

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Cage I built with tanks holding water hyacinth infested by the super hero weevil herbivore, Neochetina bruchi

 

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