Friday, 29 November 2013

Lights, camera, action

Just finished filming for a BBC 3 documentary on soils. I was there as an "earthworm expert" and talked about the relationship between earthworms and soil bacteria as well as the useful things that earthworms do in the soil.

One fun thing we had was some bacteria culture plates from "normal" soil and earthworm casts. This shows that you get more culturable bacteria in the earthworm casts. It is an interesting question as to whether the numbers of bacteria in soil are increased during passage of the soil through the earthworm intestines or if it is simply that the bacteria were dormant and become active, waking up as it were in the nice cosy environment of the earthworms guts. The plates were kindly prepared by Adrian Harrison in our Biology department.

The white discs in the petri dish represent individual bacterial colonies. The petri dish on the left has colonies from earthworm poo, the one on the right from "normal" soil. You can see that there are more culturable bacteria in the earthworm poo.

Director and camera man with presenter Chris Beardshaw discussing a close up shot of some bacteria cultured from earthworm poo!
Although the plates went down well with the crew what they really appreciated were the bottles of bubbling green stuff. This is the classic telly shot of a lab. In this case we really did have some bubbling green stuff - algal cultures for feeding to Daphnia courtesy of PhD student Annika Agatz.

Green bubbling stuff in a bottle - the stuff of a camera mans dreams! In this case an algal culture for feeding water fleas (Daphnia).

I had a happy two half days filming with the crew which will probably be about 2 minutes in the actual documentary! The documentary will probably be broadcast sometime in the middle of next year - a real treat to look forward to!

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