Growing Arabidopsis?

Ross Koning koning at ECSUC.CTSTATEU.EDU
Mon Aug 2 11:16:48 EST 1999

Hi Grant!

One point I failed to make in my previous post was that
I also remind students to handle the phytagel block
directly rather than lift the phytgel block by pulling
on the seedling.

I haven't tried rockwool yet so I'm not clear about
growth rates and final size.  The phytagel move to
Fafard #2 for us has resulted in plants about 30-40
centimeters (to top of inflorescence) and with perhaps
25 basal rosette leaves. I don't know whether that is
"puny" or not...but I have been happy with the size
and growth rate. We grow under lights and this size is
almost too-big as it is (inflorescences getting crowded
and possible cross-pollinations).  So, if that IS puny
and your method gives significantly larger plants, I'm
not sure it would help in our situation.  Please advise
on this as it is important to know whether our plants
are indeed abnormal or not.  If I can get my hands on some
rockwook I'll give it a try to see if I like it better.

I do have one other question, though, and that is safety.
With the asbestos problem, and with parallel fiberglass
legislation "in the works", dare we use rockwool in
teaching? I have become quite concerned even with using
perlite...I do use it, but have the students wet it down
immediately to avoid its dust. And, when you are done
with rockwool, is there any problem with disposal?
Currently I put our greenhouse waste in my home compost
pile (since the ECSU greenhouse is pesticide-free), but
I think I would put rockwool in our university trash-stream.
I'm wondering if trash contractors would have a problem
with it mixed in with the rest of the trash.


At 10:52 AM -0400 8/2/99, Grant R. Cramer wrote:
>We have tried this method as well (and about 200 others!). There are two
>problems with this technique: One, although the roots grow in phytagel and
>agar, they grow much more slowly than in rockwool. I suspect that aeration
>is inadequate. Plants are downright puny when grown by this method. And two,
>there is a big problem with transplant shock (as you pointed out), even if
>you include the gel (because it is quite soft and floppy). These seedlings
>are tiny and very delicate. With rockwool, you won't have aeration problems
>and if you must transplant, you can plant in a large enough cube and the
>material is firm enough that you can transplant without shocking the plant.
>Grant R. Cramer
>Associate Professor
>Mail Stop 200
>Department of Biochemistry
>University of Nevada
>Reno, NV 89557
>phone: (775) 784-4204
>fax: (775) 784-1650
>email: cramer at
>web page: http://BIOCHEM.MED.UNR.EDU/faculty/grant_c/
>>From: koning at (Ross Koning)
>>To: plant-ed at
>>Subject: Re: Growing Arabidopsis?
>>Date: Sun, Aug 1, 1999, 2:21 PM
>> Getting the seeds to sprout on a simple mineral-
>> phytagel plate is easy (I have used MS salts and
>> Knopps with equal success).  The problem comes when
>> students try to move them to soil. The young seedlings
>> can take NO root-abuse in that stage. The problem here
>> was solved by letting the students move each seedling
>> with the phytagel INTACT...carving out a block that
>> included the root and planting the whole block.  Once
>> I figured that out, all my students had success with
>> their "mystery mutant" arabidopsis plants. To get the
>> seeds sown in the plates thinly enough I found that
>> a SMALL quantity of seeds in a microfuge tube are held
>> well on the walls of the tube by static electricity
>> (or other forces). This allows the student to tap
>> on the tube to release just one seed at a time and
>> get them spaced apart widely in the dish so that
>> root damage can be minimized at the transplant time.
>> ross

Ross Koning                 | koning at
Biology Department          |
Eastern CT State University | phone: 860-465-5327
Willimantic, CT 06226 USA   | fax: 860-465-4479

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