Sunday, February 19, 2012

Planting, Building, and Sprouting
On February 16th we planted our vernalized seeds. First we watered the soil with our test solutions, or just plain water, depending on the conditions we wanted. 

We tested wild-type seeds watered with
1) plain water (our control)
2) 1/4 tsp NaCl in 800mls
3) 1 tablespoon NaCl in 800mls
4) 350 mg crushed aspirin in 800mls 
5) 1 tsp table sugar in 800 mls
6) plain water (These seeds will get bat guano after germination because bat guano might inhibit germination.) 

We also planted mutant seeds in cells moistened with plain water.

The seeds were so small we had to pick them up in water with an eyedropper.

Each condition was tested in three separate "cells" of a multi-welled growing tray. The mutants were planted in six cells. Test conditions were separated by a row of plain dirt cells with no seeds.
Planting seeds

Picking up seeds

On Feb. 19th we noticed that the seeds were sprouting.
We counted the number of seedlings in each cell:

Wild type
water                                2,1,2 (5 total)
water (for bat guano)        2,2,0 (5 total)
low salt                             3,2,3 (8 total)
high salt                            0,0,0 (0 total)
sugar                                 0,1,0 (1 total) cell #1 moldy
asprin                                0,0,0 (0 total)

row 1                               1,1,1 (3 total) all cells moldy
row 2                               1,3,4 (8 total)

We concluded that high salt, sugar, and aspirin were inhibiting germination. 

Next, we hung some grow lights in a basement closet and put the germinating seeds under them. 

Our growing seedlings


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Synchronizing our seeds so they germinate at the same time.

Feb 12, 2012
7:55 AM

This morning we are doing something called VERNALIZATION. This means simulating winter. The reason we want to vernalize is to SYNCHRONIZE our seeds so they germinate at the same time. This way we will know if any of our test conditions affect germination.

Even the cat is interested.

Angela told us to put our seeds on moist lab paper. Since we don't have petri dishes like well-funded scientists, we will improvise. We will use old jar lids and cover them with saran wrap.

The seeds are very small, but each can become a plant. Here are ~60 seeds sprinkled on a Valentine's Day card.

We prepared three lids for the normal seeds (in science, we call these wild type) and three lids containing mutant seeds. We got these mutant seeds for free from ABRC at Ohio State University.

We sprinkled a portion of our seeds onto the wet filter paper in our lids, and then wrapped them in saran wrap to keep them wet. Each lid was carefully labeled. 

To keep the seeds in darkness, an important part of vernalization, we wrapped our lids in foil and then in masking tape. Here is the finished product. These seeds go into our fridge for three days to vernalize. 

We hope nobody eats them for a midnight snack.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Visiting Angela Cordle in the Cheng Lab

Today we visited a real plant laboratory: the Cheng Lab and the University of Iowa. 

Thanks to Angela Cordle and Dr Cheng for giving us arabidopsis seeds for our experiments. 

Angela showed us what to expect when our own seeds germinate and grow and how to collect seeds from our own "crops."

Can you imagine that this tiny little dark spot at the bottom of this little tube contains three hundred seeds? Let's get planting!

Angela told us how to ensure that they all germinate at the same time by "vernalizing" them. This simulates winter time by exposing the seeds to cold for a few days. This will be our project for the weekend. Stay tuned!