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My work in Dr. Layton's lab has focused on identifying and characterizing collagen in the marine bacterium, Trichodesmium erythraeum. 
Since the time I was in the lab during the summer of 2009, the Biology Department has successfully cultured this bacterium in the laboratory assuring an ample supply for testing.  Under the instruction of Ph. D. candidate, Mr. Brent Boyd, I have used the AFM to image bacterial samples such as the example shown to the left.
A technique known as Western Blotting is performed to identify the collagen protein in a sample of bacteria prepared to run an electrophoresis gel.  A predetermined concentration of collagen is run by a method known as SDS-PAGE.  As you may have stained your agarose gel samples in your classroom,  the gel is then treated with an antibody specific to collagen which will provide a visible marker.  As Dr. Layton describes it, positive identification of the protein by this method provides the smoking gun that the collagen gene is expressed in Trichodesmium.