Hi, Katie and Harry here reporting in from the semester 2, quarter 2 junior Superlab! We are embarking upon this crusade of our last superlab quarter with a mixture of excitement and nostalgia. It’s hard to believe that we are going to be starting our theses next semester. On the other hand, our proficiency in laboratory techniques and lab notebook upkeep since 200 lab has been truly staggering. This quarter, we are going to be documenting our progress through this blog. We are fortunate enough to be mentored by Jon Wilson and Iruka Okeke while we study the types of microbial organisms that can be found on the surfaces of leaves throughout our campus. The project will conclude with a collaboration of all the lab groups resulting in a semi-comprehensive record of the microbes that live on campus and where we can find them.
Unlike superlab projects in the past, this one began outside the laboratory on Campus Tree Tour with Jon. We spent time walking around the arboretum observing the different and unexpected species that co-exist with us here on campus. In accordance with Jon’s teachings, we kept a record of the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY AND HOW of our observations during our small field trip. These notes were of course accompanied by small artistic (in some cases) sketches and pictures taken meticulously with our iPhones. Along with learning about the arboretum that we live in, we also got to get a little exercise in during lab!
It was soon our turn to explore the world of botany on our own! Back in the lab, we faced the task of developing a hypothesis relating to variations in the density and diversity of the bacteria on the surfaces of leaves. Our lab section broke up into two super groups, one focusing on comparing plants that vary spatially while the other group focused on plants that vary phenotypically. After some deliberation, we found a way to integrate the fascinating concept of plant immunity into our project; we decided to determine the relation between the density and diversity of bacteria on leaves and the degree of venation of the leaves, placing us in the latter of the two super groups. This led us to our next objective: choosing among the endless variety of flora throughout the campus merely two specimens. We knew right away that these two specimen should differ as drastically as possible in terms of their vein density.
With Jon’s help, we decided to sample a conifer (pine) with low vein density along with a dicot (flowering plant) with high vein density. We then ventured off into the pinetum in search for our samples. This gave us the opportunity to apply our field training independently. The two lucky plants that we chose were an Ivy plant (yet to be specified) and a Japanese Arborivitae (cypress family). We are looking forward to cultivating the bacteria that reside on these plants and continuing our experiments!
That’s all for now! Over and Out!