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.

A Note About Comments

This blog is hosted by wordpress, but the comments are hosted by Disqus (which hosts the comments of The Randomly Grad Life). I’ve set the comments so that anyone can comment without having to login to Disqus, but it should be known that Disqus is a commenting system that is rapidly growing all over the web so it may be worth your time to signup for a FREE account. I’ve also set it up so that if you have an OpenID, Google, Yahoo, or Facebook account you can login with those accounts as well.

My understanding is that you can receive notifications through those outlets for comments and replies to comments. I know it works with Google and Disqus, but I’ve never tried the other accounts. Play around and let me know what you discover, and most importantly figure out what works best for you. Let’s communicate!

Welcome to IheartAnthony’s Research!

My name is Anthony Salvagno and I would like to welcome you to the new open notebook of my research. My goal is to make the information here as accessible to everyone on the planet as physically possible. Over the next few weeks this site will be going through some major changes, but since science is 24/7 the research will be pouring in.

If you follow my personal blog, the Randomly Grad Life, then this marks the official split of my research from everything else. If you are new to me, my blogging style, and my research, then you are in for a treat. With that said, I’d like to tell you a little about myself for all the newcomers (and maybe those that know me will learn something new).

I am a 5th year Physics grad student in the KochLab at the University of New Mexico. My research was primarily focused on manipulating DNA with optical tweezers, don’t worry if you don’t understand that because in the next few days I’m going to tell you all about it. I’ve recently hit a road block in that department and because of funding issues I am switching focus to a new project. I’m beginning to examine how different organisms live and grow under differing water environments. At some point I’ll be playing with kinesin motor proteins (which are the bread and butter of the lab) and testing their stability under similar conditions.

While in grad school I stumbled upon graphic design, which has become quite the hobby for me and one day soon will become my next profession. I created IheartAnthony about a year and a half ago as my personal brand. I wanted it to be a place where everything me could be stored in one location. With the addition of this notebook, that dream is nearly complete.

With the introductions out of the way let’s take a magically journey into the world of the KochLab where science sizzles.

Do you?

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