Growing Arabidopsis?

David Hershey dh321 at
Sat Jul 31 23:11:59 EST 1999

Sounds like the sudden death may be a fungal problem. Even with
sterilized growing media, many commerical plant growers drench growing
media with fungicides periodically. I've not grown Arabidopsis but agree
that hydroponics does seem to nearly eliminate disease problems for the
wide range of plants I have grown in solution culture hydroponics.

If you have a well-aerated potting medium, you shouldn't have an
overwatering problem. Some people compact the growing medium when
potting and reduce the aeration. Simply firm the potting medium by
gently tapping the pot on the potting bench. Increasing the height of
the growing medium in the container also increases the aeration.
Subirrigation helps keep the plant and soil surface drier so may be
beneficial in disease prevention. Underwatering can be prevented with
subirrigation, such as a capillary mat, or intermittent mist system.  

Another problem for some plants is ammonium toxicity because commercial
plant fertilizers have the majority of nitrogen as ammonium or urea
(which breaks down to ammounium) rather than nitrate. Hydroponic
nutrient solutions, such as Hoagland, have all or nearly all nitrogen as
nitrate. You might want to test the growing medium pH to see if the pH
is dropping due to the acidifying nature of ammonium fertilizers.

Seedlings are also sensitive to salinity, which can be tested with an
electrical conductivity meter.

You might try consulting state floriculture extension specialists, they
may have a plant pathologist who could do tests to determine if it is a
disease problem and usually can test potting media for pH and salinity.

David Hershey
dh321 at

Grant R. Cramer wrote:
> I think the best way to grow Arabidopsis is to grow it hydroponically. We
> have found this plant to be very sensitive to the slightest overwatering or
> underwatering in the earling seedling stage. We grow them on rock wool
> system that we have developed. It is idiot proof. Rockwool is the key! See
> my paper on the internet
> at:http://BIOCHEM.MED.UNR.EDU/faculty/grant_c/hydroponic.html
> --
> 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: monroejd at (Jon Monroe)
> >To: plant-ed at
> >Subject: Re: Growing Arabidopsis?
> >Date: Thu, Jul 29, 1999, 9:58 AM
> >
> > Bob,
> >
> > We grow Arabidopsis plants in 5" plastic pots.  Eight pots are held
> > in 22" x 11" trays and 12 trays fit on a growth cart on wheels.  I've
> > purchased all of these items from a place called Grower's Supply in
> > Ann Arbor MI (313-426-5852).  Another source of Arabidopsis-specific
> > growing supplies is Lehle Seeds (  I'm
> > sure there are other good suppliers out there.  I fill the trays
> > 1/3-1/2 full with nutrient solution at planting and then add tap
> > water when they run out - about every third day initially and almost
> > every day when they get larger.
> >
> > I had the same problem with seedling death-for-no-apparent-reason
> > earlier this year so I checked the archives of the Arabidopsis
> > newsgroup ( and learned
> > that this is a somewhat common problem!  No one appears to have has
> > spent the time to figure out the cause, but the most frequent advice
> > I saw was to switch soil brands.  I was using Pro-Mix BX when the
> > problem started so I tried Sunshine Mix and MetroMix and plants grew
> > normally on both of them.  Interestingly, people had the same problem
> > with a variety of soil mixes so when it happens again I'll switch
> > back!
> >
> > Hope this helps.
> >
> > Jon
> >
> >
> >>Does anyone have a good system for growing Arabidopsis?  Mine get to the
> >>seedling stage but then die because I can't seem to keep them from getting
> >>either too dry or too wet.
> >>
> >>TIA
> >>
> >>Bob
> >>Dr. Robert R. Wise
> >>Department of Biology
> >>University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
> >>Oshkosh, WI 54901
> >>(920) 42403404
> >>wise at
> >>
> >
> >
> > ---------------------------------------------------
> >   Jonathan D. Monroe           Associate Professor
> >   Department of Biology       office: 540-568-6649
> >   MSC 7801                       lab: 540-568-6045
> >   James Madison University       fax: 540-568-3333
> >   Harrisonburg, VA 22807   email: monroejd at
> >
> > ---------------------------------------------------

More information about the Plant-ed mailing list