Greetings microbe lovers! Our apologies for the delay in posting the results of your yeast fart experiments – the scientists on Expedition 327 were all very busy yesterday with a one-of-a-kind 24-hour-long experiment injecting tracers into the oceanic crust to study how the fluids (and microbes!) are moving around beneath the seafloor. Now we are preparing to install our second CORK observatory into the seafloor of the Juan de Fuca Ridge flank – wish us luck!
We hope that you enjoyed telling all of your friends about how you were growing yeast to smell their ‘farts’! I can assure you that we’ve had fun on the JR giggling about it. We ran out of balloons after the balloon microbe activity (and we can’t run down to the corner store to get some more!), so we had to improvise and use some gloves as our ‘balloons’ to catch the gas made by our yeast. We tried growing the yeast on simple sugar, lemon juice and some apricot jelly – the jelly experiment definitely made the most gas.
The folks over at NASSA thought big with this experiment – check out their set-up!
Not only that – they also made some structural models to show how the sugar molecules, like glucose, were being broken down by the yeast to make carbon dioxide and ethanol – very nice!
Even though Fred’s bottles melted a little bit, it looks like the yeast were pretty productive in making some gas.
Fred asked an interesting question, too – he wondered if there is an easy way to tell how much of the balloon’s volume was due to the heated air inside the balloon expanding versus the gas produced by the yeast? Probably the easiest way to check would be to set up a similar experiment including everything but the yeast. In that set-up (which a scientist would refer to as a ‘control’ experiment), any inflation of the balloon should only be due to air expansion and maybe the creation of water vapor.
That’s all for this week. Please check back in on Monday for the final adoption activity of the Adopt A Microbe project for this expedition!