The Bristol Bone Biologists, Elizabeth Lawrence, PhD student in Dynamic Molecular Cell Biology, and Jessye Aggleton, PhD student in Anthropology and Archaeology, were one of two teams chosen to run their research with ESA Academy as part of their annual student hypergravity experiment campaign ‘Spin Your Thesis!’.
The students used a Large Diameter Centrifuge (LDC), which ran for 48 hours, to see whether zebrafish develop normally in altered gravitational fields. The zebrafish larvae have returned to Bristol’s Hammond Lab in the School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience and the students will now study their joints and immune cells.
Elizabeth Lawrence said: “We have used hypergravity to simulate increased mechanical loading during a key time in joint development in zebrafish and will be looking at changes to the shape, structure and function of muscles, cartilage and bone in the larvae to see what impact it has had on their development.
“This research will help us understand the importance of mechanical loading and genetics during early life in the onset of diseases such as osteoarthritis.”
Jessye Aggleton added: “It’s been a fantastic opportunity to work with the European Space Agency Education team and those at the LDC. It’s a unique project that has enabled our team to pitch, plan, and run a large-scale experiment from scratch.
“Collecting exciting data is just one of the great outcomes of the project and we’ve developed many other management and outreach skills along the way.”
As well as Bristol-based analyses, the team captured video data at the LDC of the zebrafish larvae swim behaviour and their response to motion and sound vibration. This additional experiment into behaviour was chosen by members of the public who voted in a poll as part of a public engagement event by the Bristol Bone Biologists in August at We The Curious.
Source: University of Bristol