Category Archives: DDW Effects On Life

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.

Effect of Deuterium Depeleted Water on Life

Hydrogen has several isotopes and one of them, deuterium, exists quite naturally in water to form D_{2}O. In previous experiments and several papers by Gilbert Lewis, it has been found that life is hindered in the presence of D_{2}O. While this may be true, my PI Steve Koch wondered if life had found a use for it because naturally occurring water has about a 17mM (millimolar) concentration of deuterium.

To put that number into perspective, when I do a typical polymerase chain reaction of DNA I add 10mM of each base of DNA (which is less than the amount of naturally occurring deuterium) to create millions of copies of a DNA template from an amount that is 1000x less then what the reaction yields. In fact most chemicals in most of my buffers on the order of the amount of naturally occurring deuterium.

So you can see it isn’t a stretch to think that nature has found a use for D_{2}O since it is quite abundant and life has been constantly evolving for billions of years. I want to test this hypothesis in a variety of different organisms:

  1. Tobacco Seeds – to act as a foil to Lewis’ experiments in which he grew tobacco seeds in pure D_{2}O.
  2. Mustard Seeds – from what I’m told mustard seeds are the powerhouse of the botanical genetics world much like Drosophila and S. cerevisiae are in their respective genetic fields.
  3. Escherichia coli – another molecular biological powerhouse that is very easy to grow and may be easy to see results with. We just got the facilities to be able to grow E. coli and damn it I want to use them!
  4. Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Yeast) – I know a guy who grows yeast for his experiments and I’m sure it wouldn’t be a stretch to get him to do so in deuterium depeleted water.

So the idea would be to try to grow these in regular water and in deuterium depleted water (no D_{2}O), and in the case of E. coli and yeast, perhaps in pure D_{2}O because I don’t think those experiments have been carried out yet. Hopefully I will be able to conclusively state whether or not life has developed a need/use for D_{2}O which would be a very interesting discovery indeed!

Preliminary Results of How Water Effects Organism Development

This is a little backwards because I’m announcing some preliminary results of a project that I haven’t even discussed yet. It’s also a little awkward because I still don’t know what to call this project (at least in a way that would fit in a blog post) and I have even less of a clue what to categorize this project as. With all that said, I say let’s forget all that and just get into what we all came here for:

The results!

I put some tobacco seeds in different water buffers (types of water?). My next post will explain all this, but the short is I have seeds in tap water, filtered 18MΩ (deionized water), and deuterium depleted water (water contains H_{2}O, but it also contains a hydrogen isotope called Deuterium that can form D_{2}O). The lab has been working with D_{2}O a lot and found (along with research done in the 1930’s) that life is greatly hindered under pure D_{2}O. So Koch has been thinking that life evolved to find a use for D_{2}O. The hypothesis is that the seeds won’t grow as fast in water that has no D_{2}O compared to regular water. Let’s see what happened in the first trial of this experiment.

Now remember these are preliminary results so I don’t want to make claims that aren’t accurate, but it appears that the roots have sprouted tiny offshoots in the Deuterium Depleted water (DD water). The other option is that it is mold, I’m not sure. Hopefully this will be more clear in a few days.