Biology Lab

Plant communication

This lab is primarily engaged in processing electrical signals from plants, fungi, and mold, and analyzing those signals for evidence of communication amongst the organisms.

The organisms are cultured in Petri dishes with embedded electronic probes connected to an Electroencephalograph (EEG). The signals are digitized, post-processed, and analyzed using traditional statistical methodology. This is a highly interesting but complex research project with an un-schedulable outcome.

One of our studies is being conducted on Phycomyces blakesleeanus, which has been known for over one hundred years to have interesting growth patterns, particularly those in response to blue light. The fundamental driving forces behind some of these responses continue to elude researchers. Nonetheless, the behaviors are fascinating and are best observed casually with time-lapse photography. In the video, one can view an upward spiraling growth of the sporangiophores (fruiting bodies of the fungus, yellow pigment-carotene) away from gravity, and in the latter part of the sequence, a leftward growth towards a white/blue light.

Time lapse video of phycomyces blakesleeanus growing on potato dextrose agar. Note the yellow pigment (carotene) and spiraling growth of sporangiophores.

Close up of Slime Mold making excellent contact with probes

Close up of Slime Mold making excellent contact with probes

Slime mold spores

Slime mold spores

Roger and Joe examining signals for unusual properties

Roger and Joe examining signals for unusual properties

Screen shot of 8 active signals from bread mold

Screen shot of 8 active signals from bread mold

Dick taking slime mold samples

Dick taking slime mold samples