Fireflies! Who knew they would ever be more useful than as points of beauty in a tropical night? The reaction that results in the emission of sparkly – or more correctly, luminescent light – in those fabulous beetles can be harnessed to measure reactions in experiments. And that’s just what our curator this week past, Dr Siouxsie Wiles does in her lab. The reaction that converts the substance luciferin into light plus luciferyl adenylate is what her lab uses to see if new treatments work against infectious agents like tuberculosis. But the luminescence isn’t the most exciting thing about her work. Siouxsie’s lab works on one of the most critical health issues of our time – new treatments for infectious diseases, especially diseases that are becoming resistant to existing antibiotics. This is particularly important in New Zealand, where the rate of morbidity due to infectious diseases is actually on the rise.
So this week Siouxsie took us on a tour of her fabulous work, her lab:
and surrounds and some of the amazing models she uses: Bacteria that produce luminescence for assays (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kP_RaHo1Pmw&feature=youtu.be). The caterpillars of the Greater Wax Moth:
as well as zebrafish embryos and live-tweeted her own lab meeting. Now that is just badass.
Siouxsie also talked about her work on the Animal Ethics Committee and how much effort is required to apply for grants, do the work, supervise postdocs and students and keep the lab going. Truly heroic. So thanks, Siouxsie, for taking time out to share your important and exciting work with us at @realscientists and all the best. Storifys of Siouxsie’s tweets will be available soon in case you need to catch up, and please be sure to follow her regular account @siouxsiew, her blog and her podcast. We also wish her team well at the Imagine Science Festival later this year (film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kP_RaHo1Pmw&feature=youtu.be).