plant propagation lab

Janice M. Glime jmglime at MTU.EDU
Fri Aug 8 14:31:09 EST 1997

Plant Propagation lab:
   Since you are most likely interested in classification of plants as
well as just seed plant biology, I would suggest propagation of a few
cryptogams among the activities.  If no one else is using Marsilea (an
aquatic fern) in a course like plant morphology, have students grow it. 
Once the sporocarp is opened (nicked on one end) and put in water (we use
tap water, but it might need to sit 24 hours to eliminate chlorine), it
will produce sperm in about 18 hours.  We start some at 6-hr intervals
ahead of time and also provide a place where students can follow their own
if they choose.  The sporocarp expands and splits as water is imbibed and
a gelatinous ring with sori emerges.  Fertilization occurs after about
18-24 hours and within 48 hours the enlargement of the papilla can be
seen.  Most of the development to a young sporophyte with embryonic leaves
can be seen in one week, and the students are fascinated.  You can
actually see the sperm around the papilla if the timing is right. 
  I would also suggest drying mosses and pulverizing them, then
broadcasting them on vermiculite or a soil/sand mix to get protonemata.
Larger pieces (skipping protonemata) can often grow from stem tips that
have been dry a long time.  Provide an array of 8-10 pieces they can
choose among, let the students fragment them (they can compare different
types of fragments), and "blow" them across the soil mix.  At least some
of the species should grow well if the soil mix is given light and kept
moist.  15-20 C should be the best temperature for most. 
  Moss spores will germinate rapidly on agar and the spores are available
from supply houses.  It might be fun (I am considering it for one of my
courses) to have them compare spore longevity by germinating spores of a
variety of ages from herbarium specimens, using several ages of the same
species for comparison.  They could post the results on bryonet-l for
comment by bryologist, since such an experiment has never been done on a
large scale.  If you have no herbarium specimens, you might have someone
on bryonet who is willing to supply some. 
  Dry some soil from a pond or flower pot and look at some with a
microscope, then hydrate it for a week and see what grows.  The students
seemed to enjoy this one, especially if you have some illustrations to
help them identify the things that grow.  Both are likely to get
Oscillatoria, but other algae will show up. 
  Put out a jar of water with nutrients, light, and warm temperature and
see what starts to grow in it - takes about 5 weeks.  Students will have
to ask themselves where these came from.  Chlorella is a common arrival. 
  I've included the bryonet address below in case you want to join or
send a message while working on this.
 Janice M. Glime, Professor  
 Department of Biological Sciences
 Michigan Technological University
 Houghton, MI 49931-1295
 jmglime at
 FAX 906-487-3167 
Dear bryologists, lichenologists, and ecologists:
  The list serve for bryology is now up and running in the hopes that it
can provide good discussions and a forum in which teachers, ecologists,
and bryologists can get questions answered.  Since much of bryophyte
literature is imbedded in studies of a more general nature, it is often
difficult to find answers to ecological, physiological, and other
questions.  I hope this list will serve to be of help to those who are

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 Janice M. Glime
 Department of Biological Sciences
 Michigan Technological University
 Houghton, MI 49931-1295
 jmglime at
 FAX 906-487-3167 

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