Tag Archives: silly

isolating mitochondria, strange science, turkey sperm

I tried a kit for collecting mitochondria today. It didn’t work, but it failed in an interesting way, it turns out. Not interesting in a scientific way, unfortunately for me, but it ended up being… humorous…

This kit is supposed to take cells in one end and spit their mitochondria out the other. But there were no mitochondria on the other side. I don’t know if anyone else would go looking though the samples for whole cells, so maybe it wasn’t obvious to other people why it wasn’t giving good yields for the cell type we like. But I did go looking, and I found cells that were not lysed. If they don’t lyse, then they don’t give up the mitochondria.

So I went looking for ways to lyse cells in a way that doesn’t lyse the mitochondria.

Arriaga uses digitonin (detergent) and a cell disruption bomb. The Thurston group isolated turkey sperm mitochondria (I’m too tired to really appreciate how awesome that is) using a combination of Dounce homogenization and sonication. That was back in 1993.

I’d like to share a quote from their paper: “Semen was collected from turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) by abdominal massage (Burrows and Quinn, 1937).” What I want to know is: who are these Burrows and Quinn characters? And how does someone in 1937 get the job of inventing a procedure to acquire turkey semen?

There’s a story there, by god.