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Images: Marine Microbes vs. Cystic Fibrosis

Technician Kristen Rathjen displays flasks in which microscopic marine organisms have been growing for a week. Each flask contains one strain of microbe in a nutrient broth. The broth, which started out pale beige, now appears colored due to the natural pigments of the microbes. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Each culture flask contains a cloth pouch filled with tiny beads of resin. The pouches act like teabags in reverse, gathering metabolic compounds out of the broth. The microbes growing in this flask were photosynthetic, hence the green pigmentation of the broth.

(Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Resin beads are tiny but very effective at collecting compounds produced by the microbes. The compounds stick to the beads, which can then be processed to remove the compounds for analysis.

(Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

To remove compounds from the beads, the pouches are placed in an organic solvent, as in the small flasks in the background. The resulting crude extract is then run through a High Performance Liquid Chromatography column (HPLC) to separate the compounds by their polarity. In the foreground, two fresh pouches are ready to be placed in a culture flask.

(Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Each one-liter culture yields about 3-5 milliliters of crude extract, which is stored in small vials prior to fractionation and analysis. Each extract retains the distinctive color of the culture it came from.

(Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)