Setup of Tobacco Seed Growth in Different Types of Water

I am growing 2 different species of tobacco seed (Virginia Gold #1 and Dark Virginia purchased from The Tobacco Seed Company, as an aside I find it strange that we bought seeds from a company in England that gets their seeds from the United States) in different water buffers: regular tap water, 18MΩ deionized water (DI water), and deuterium depleted water (DD water).

I place 3 seeds of each species in a cuvette (I actually have no clue what company these are from because they are from a former student in the lab, but USA Scientific has a comparable type) and add one type of water. So there are a total of 6 cuvettes (3 for each species).

Seeds in water in cuvettes.

The experiment has way more to consider than I initially suspected which presents some interesting challenges. On top of that I don’t know all that much (right now) about how deuterium interacts with the environment and the seeds, and I don’t know the biochemistry of seed growth in general. Because of this I started a second set of experiments that are identical except that the seeds were presoaked in their respective buffers in the refrigerator in case the initial stages of growth dramatically changed the water solution.

Finally I’m in the process of figuring out how to accurately record growth rates and right now I’m using very primitive macro photography (my camera phone and a big magnifying lens), which will develop into more advanced macro photography (Dr. Koch’s personal DSLR with 10x magnification lens) and hopefully eventually evolve into the microscope and camera system. Here is my current photography setup:

Cuvette photography system.

I have a 2in lens with a focal length of about 3.5in setup on an adjustable post (which is mounted on a rail). I place cuvettes on a cylindrical lens holder (the clampy thing in the back) and adjust the lens height and distance to get the best picture. Most parts are opto-mechanics purchased from Thor Labs.

  • Steve Koch

    “The experiment has way more to consider than I initially suspected which presents some interesting challenges.” Totally agree. And I think you’re going to keep discovering things, so don’t get discouraged! Even the most basic thing (knowing what is in the water) is very difficult and you’ll have to come up with solid answers. This is why I am highly skeptical of the very, very limited DDW research that is out there. My opinion right now is that too much exchange is happening with the atmosphere and / or materials, so that is one area to work on. There are lots of footholds to gain–how to measure growth / phenotypes of the various organisms is one that you can gain regardless of what water you’re using–I think you’re making good and rapid progress on that front. More footholds independent of getting the experiments to work is with making your open notebook / open data the “best in the world,” and you’ve already begun doing that. A long way to go obviously. I’m probably giving an ONS / Open Data talk in mid-October, so a good deadline to shoot for is a “really good” notebook by that point, and a good platform for measuring some growth rates / phenotypes.

  • Steve Koch

    I would like you to make the planning mindmap(s) public and link to them here somehow too — thanks!

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