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Santhanam did a research training project with the Ettema lab for 10 weeks. During this time he helped develop some of the protocols currently in use by the Ettema lab for generating 16S PCR amplicons used in examining the microbial composition from a very diverse set of samples. This was done starting from numerous environmental samples ranging from insect guts to sediments and biofilms from mines. During his time in the Ettema lab Santhanam learned a diverse set of skills. These included isolating DNA from soil and water samples, performing insect dissection with the aim of isolating symbiotic ciliates and generating 16S amplicons.
He was also taught many of the basic methods used in a molecular biology laboratory. This included DNA extraction/purification, cell lysis, PCR, gel electrophoresis and NGS 16S amplicon library construction.