Plant-fungi interactions

Nicolas Dailly, Ribamar Santarosa, Roland van Dierendonck and Anneke ter Schure

Objective 1: find an interaction between plants and fungi, directly under the microscope and indirectly using sterilised soils to see an effect on the plant growth

Objective 2: find out what fungi are present by means of PCR analysis

Extra: create a biology experiment that is easily accessible and promotes the use and understanding of the techniques (microscopy, PCR, DNA barcoding) and possible applications of these techniques.


Findings after three weeks:


Objective 1: finding an interaction between plants and mycorrhizae is more difficult than originally thought. Pretreating the roots with KOH (2%; 1 hour at 90-100 degrees Celsius) really helps creating a clear image but our selection of inks seem not to specifically bind to the fungi. Using a 5% ink-vinegar solution for 15 minutes at 90-100 degrees Celsius was way too much and coloured all the organic material. 1-2 minutes created better images but made it clear that we’re probably not using the correct types of ink.

The indirect method of finding this interaction by checking the amount of growth of tomato plants in sterile versus non-sterile soil appears inconclusive. This part of the test will be continued on my window sill.

Objective 2: still no progress with our PCR plans as these are dependent upon finding mycorrhizae in the first place.