Over the last week I have been keeping myself very busy with learning how to manipulate the single fibres under the microscope to mount them to test their force of contraction. I thaw the frozen fibres and move them into a dish containing relaxing solution. This allows me to manipulate the bundle of fibres and tease a single fibre out. Once this is done I have to make sure the fibre is straight and not damaged along its length. Then I have to trim it to an adequate size usually for my rig this will be anywhere from 2.5 – 4 mm long. Once the fibres are the required length I attach minute T-clips to either end used to mount the fibres between the two hooks of my fibre contracting setup.
Photo of muscle fibre attached at both ends with T-clips(bottom) . T-clip unfolded shown (top).
This takes a bit of practice and is very delicate work. You need patience and perseverance to learn the techniques but they are so rewarding once mastered. In the next few days I get to look forward to freezing some of my fibre bundles in liquid nitrogen and then contracting them!