I’m back! Last Friday, we ran a gel on our culture-dependent PCR products from Wednesday, checked our transformation plates for growth and made more slides of plant sections. The gel looked really good, except there was a faint band in the negative control lane, so we’ll have to re-run it in lab tomorrow. At first glance, it looked like our transformation plates only had black colonies on them (which is what we don’t want), but upon closer inspection we actually found a couple of white colonies, so I’m going in to lab in about half an hour to prepare the samples for tomorrow. We would have liked to see more colonies, but it’s getting so late in the quarter that at this point we may not be able to start the culture-independent portion over. We also stained and made slides of more stem and leaf sections from our bamboo plants, and tried to identify more aspects of the plant’s anatomy. If we have time tomorrow, we’ll stain sections with different types of stains, which will show us the plant anatomy in various colors, and give us a better indication of the plant’s structure—all with the goal of determining where on the leaf bacteria might live, and why they might live there. One unusual feature on our bamboo leaves, which we hadn’t noticed before, is that each leaf has tiny, razor-sharp, teeth on the left edge of the leaf. I don’t have a picture, but I’ll post a picture I drew of the leaf in my notebook. We’re trying to figure out what kind of evolutionary advantage these spines would have since they’re only on one side of the leaf.
On Monday we had our fourth Monday lecture, which was about plant anatomy and sequencing. Professor Wilson showed us a number of slides of stained sections of stems and leaves from monocots, dicots and conifers, and taught us how to identify which colors coordinate with which structures of plant anatomy. One of the most interesting slides was of microscopic hair on the surface of leaves. Some leaves have a spiky layer of cuticle on the surface, which don’t allow water to flow across smoothly—they actually hold droplets of water on the surface of the plant, keeping it afloat. Some plants, such as lotuses, have huge spikes, which allow water to bead on the surface, and when the wind blows, the water droplets pick up dirt on the surface of the cells, cleaning the plant. This is called the lotus effect, and is actually used by paint companies to create paints that will clean your house for you—all you do is add water! Other plants have tiny hairs filled with chemicals that are used in warfare against insects and bacteria on the surface of the cells. I’ll include some of the pictures from Professor Wilson’s slideshow of stained plant sections for your enjoyment!
Also, shout out to Jordana for her comment on my last blog post!