Photosynthesis and Chloroplast Experiment Assistance

Pascal Meunier pmeunier at bilbo.bio.purdue.edu
Mon Dec 2 11:48:30 EST 1996


In article <961130143412_1421928678 at emout04.mail.aol.com>, CHAigle at aol.com
wrote:

> I am a 15-year-old high school student and am working on a science project on
> photosynthesis.  I am trying to use a variety of plants to see which one's
> chloroplasts will survive and produce oxygen outside of their hosts.

Interesting idea.  However, if they don't produce oxygen, maybe you need
simply to change the experimental procedure to get them to "survive" by
using different osmolytes like sugar (1 M) and a pH buffer (of course, we
all know that chloroplasts can't "survive" outside of the host since the
chloroplast doesn't have the machinery or genome to reproduce, or even
maintain itself.  You meant "survive" as in "having water-oxidase
activity", right?).

> My basic problem is determining whether oxygen has been produced.  I have
> tried using a glowing match to see if it flared.  I couldn't be sure if I was
> successful.  Do you have any suggestions to help me determine, at home,
> whether I have successfully produced oxygen?

That's the though part.  We use platinum and silver electrodes and measure
the current.  Pyrogallol changes color on contact with oxygen, but it is
dangerous to prepare and will react with *any* oxygen so it is also hard
to make and store.  I have never tried this, but maybe worms would die or
become immobile if no oxygen is produced, and survive for a while longer
when you shine light on your material?  You would need a really thight
seal, though.  I hope there are no worm rights activists reading this.
Good luck, Corinne!

Pascal

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