Vitl Life Science Solutions – a member of the ITL Group – has built a reputation for developing products that deliver class leading performance in a laboratory setting – the company can now add glacial research to their list.
The high-end life science brand has built relationships with MedTech companies and research institutions around the world, including the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, US.
The latest project involved a team of researchers from the university taking the Lu-mini, Vitl’s new robust benchtop luminometer, into some of the most dramatic mountain terrain in the United States to not only support their research but to test its capabilities in the most extreme conditions.
Their research focused on testing watermelon snow, a natural phenomenon found in mountains stretching across the Northwest of America.
Melanie Lombardi, Sales Representative, Vitl Life Science Solutions said:
We have had many requests from our customers and partners, but this environmental project was a first for us, and one we saw as research worth supporting.
The compact Lu-mini proved to be a great product in creating ease of transport for the research team to trek up the mountain. In the elements, the Lu-mini proved to be highly versatile to conduct quality testing in identifying a data connection of the carbon budget of a glacier, to its dynamic microbial ecology.
We hope to see the Lu-mini utilized more by the University of Tennessee research team, including a visit to Antarctica with Dr. Jill Mikucki in the fall, and another with Caleb Schuler to revisit the Easton Glacier again next year.”
The team was led by Dr. Jill Mikucki, a US microbiologist, educator and Antarctic researcher, best known for her work at Blood Falls, demonstrating that microbes can grow below ice in the absence of sunlight.
Easton Glacier on Mount Baker, Washington State was the destination for a series of experiments related to the unique phenomena of watermelon snow.
Schuler, part of the research team and a PhD student of microbiology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, explained:
Our research objectives were to understand how carbon flows through a glacial system and the impacts that microbial metabolism has on this carbon flux.
We were looking to understand whether glaciers are sinks or sources for greenhouse gases. In efforts to understand this, we sought to fully characterize the microbiome of the glacier and its proglacial streams by collected microbial samples and geochemical samples on a spatial scale.
On the mountain we had surprisingly good conditions that were partly cloudy at times and the temperature ranged from low single digit Celsius to -10°C depending on time of day and altitude.”
The Lu-mini was used to determine total ATP per ml of samples collecting.
“We wanted to use the Lu-mini as it’s small in size and light weight compared to other luminometers. This is important to us as our research requires us to have small cubic volume and mass for our transport logistics,” Schuler added.
“To power the device off the grid we used a solar powered generator. This allowed us to bring the equipment anywhere and run our needed assays on the spot immediately after collecting samples or running the assay as soon as we hiked down to our basecamp.”
“We used the luminometer for spot measurements of ATP to track the presence of active cells within our system. I have not fully finished digging through our data yet. However, a preliminary glance at the RLU's suggests the Lu-mini had no problem, in cabins, tents, or exposed in a pro-glacial snow field.”