Centipede DNA Isolation
A – Kill Centipede
B – Mash with mortar and pestle
This was no easy feat. The night I scanned the centipede the other residents named him Keith! And Keith nearly escaped. I fed and housed him, changed her stream water and caught it bugs. I even found that he preferred raw meat but not fat. With a name and care, Keith felt more like a pet. Also, the skittering, curious and loungy attitude of Keith suggested a fine sentient personality. The antennas poking and wriggling in unison and independently spoke tomes. Even the fear of a venomous organism showing signs of extremely honed escape tactics gave me vast respect to the centipedes of this world.
There is no respectful death possible for an organism to be used for bioart. Still, a good death was considered. There is little written about insect euthanasia. We considered drug overdose but it was unknown if insects responded to diazepam derivatives. I was of the notion that fast, near instantaneous destruction was the best method. Its just a bit of that ultraviolence, smash and grind will do the trick. But, we did try out cryanesthesia (freezing) in the hopes that Keith would be numb. As usual with these death rituals, it is not easy.
Matteo Farinella of http://matteofarinella.com/
Ooops, lame research revealed belatedly:
“The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) Terrestrial Invertebrate Working Group (TIWG) reports on a survey conducted by Mark Bushell of BIAZA institutions. He found that refrigeration and freezing were the most common methods “of euthanasia of invertebrates although research has suggested that this is probably one of the least ethical options.” That said, freezing is a worst-case method if chemical or instantaneous physical destruction is not possible.”
- Sarah Pellett; Romain Pizzi; Steven Trim; Mark Bushell; Dave Clarke; Jamie Wood (Jun 2015). BIAZA Recommendations for Ethical Euthanasia of Invertebrates (2.6 ed.). British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Keith began to wake from his semi-frozen slumber as the brass mortar came down on her in the porcelain pestle. Keith was mashed in seconds and the interior looked a lot like blended shrimp meat and the only recognizable remnants were some legs that stuck to the side of the pestle and a long sheath of segmented centipedal chiton all covered in goo.
Keith, mortal, pestle
Photo credit: David Bowen
Photo credit: David Bowen
C – Mix mashed centipede with distilled water, salt and a tiny drop of soap
D – let centipede mash sit in hot water bath for 5-10 minutes
I had earlier determined that hypodermic syringes do melt in boiling water. So, I mixed the centipede mash in a tube that had contained a really nice SF styled joint with some remnant cannabis in the bottom.
Actually, the Cannabis Indica genome was isolated with the centipede genome and they both live on in the centiSperm to some extent.
I will resist calling this project centi-midnightToker-Sperm for lack of text space on the interwebs. I did make a tube floatation device for the hot water bath. I used plastic netting and corks. There are many corks at the Djerassi Residency, many!
E – Spin to make pellet
F – This time keep the supernatant and throw away the pellet
G – Move liquid to new tube
H – Mix 50/50 with high proof vodka or Everclear
I – Spin at high speed for 10+ minutes
J – Pour off the vodka super natant
K – let the pellet dry aerating until there is no alcohol left
L – Resuspend in 100 microliters of distilled water by pipetting up and down over and over until the DNA pellet is mixed in with the water.
For this step I used my hand held 20-200 microliter pipette but I had not remembered to bring sterile pipette tips. Well I cut some myself from disposable pipettes. I know they are not calibrated but they sure work well and the proportions were right!
DIY Pipette Tips
Photo Credit: David Bowen of http://www.dwbowen.com/