Discovering the world of bees in Germany

During my Bachelor of Genetics studies in Vilnius University, Faculty of Natural Sciences, I’ve got a taste of insect science and I became motivated to explore it more. Hence before my Master degree studies at VU I decided to do an internship in the laboratory in Germany which is famous in the field of bee-parasite coevolution.

I have spent two months with the professor Robert Paxton’s research group at the Department of Zoology of Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. The main focus of theirs is insect evolutionary ecology studies. For a short time I became a part of a project gathering data about RNA viruses in honey bees, bumblebees and wild bees. The tasks I carried out included both lab work and data analysis. I extracted DNA and RNA using manual protocols and automated QIAcube system, learnt to correctly apply MLPA (Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification) in order to detect specific viruses in samples of different bee morphogroups and analyzed the generated product with QIAxcel micro capillary electrophoresis system. In addition, I helped to prepare bee samples for the DNA barcoding and identified the sequences received.

Alongside with my daily lab work I had a chance to observe a vast variety of research methods applied by the group members ranging  from bee genetic diversity analysis based on microsatellites to taxonomical descriptions of new insect species and live bee manipulations.

Time spent away from home and Lithuania contributed to my personality changes in a good way. I proved myself  that I can be ambitious and self-confident. I got to know a lot of professionals with whom I had numerous memorable talks and explored the regions of Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony in Germany. I gained a firsthand experience of what it is like to work with a research group and how the researches are managed. In addition, my interest in insects, their beauty and complexity grew even stronger. All the experience this traineeship gave me (albeit being so short) is invaluable – I grew a bit as a person and as a young specialist.

Overall the traineeship time was very enjoyable and challenging at the same time. I had an opportunity to gain both, work experience and social skills, which really helped me to decide what to do next career-wise and discover what I am good at.

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