Plates vs. Plants

I’ve made a point to say that for the most part, I’ve worked in a greenhouse. I collect seeds from weeds, germinate them in soil, and then transplant them into my test pots. I don’t normally get results for weeks on end.

Which makes plates somewhat a novelty for me.

Plants grown in the greenhouse are stationed there. They get regular watering from automated sprinklers (apparently not a universal greenhouse feature I’ve been told), and the temperature is regulated*.

Meanwhile, I’ve got 15 plates with malt extract agar sitting in my shelf wrapped in foil.

Bringing my experiment home is strange, but it affords me the option to see how my fungi are growing. With 4 hours of commute by train, I’d much rather not waste a day way out west by seeing how my fungi are doing at home.

But in saying that, I’m also a way out of my depth. I have yet to figure out how to ID fungi from plates – and cursory searches online and meetings with my supervisor have allowed me to come to the conclusion that short of PCR, ID may be impossible.

Microscopic differences also require some delicate measure, using sterilised cover slips and a water agar to get a sparse fungal growth over the slip. It’s all getting quite complicated.

As of last Friday, I have completed all the isolations on MEA + RB media. Which still leaves me with a lot of subculture plates to go. I fully anticipate drowning in plates before the start of March.

And then I’m reminded that I’ll be doing more isolation using a few other agar plates. Which means I’ll be doubling what I’ve already completed.

Glutton for punishment indeed.


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