Hi guys, it’s Kai here.  If some of you follow the site closely you may know that I run astrobotany.com as well as astrobotany.org.  I’m also a researcher in the Gilroy Lab, but now I am transitioning into an educator/business/communication role in the team.  This semester I have the opportunity to work A LOT in the lab, doing what I love to do: astrobotany stuff.  So hopefully I can update this blog often and tell y’all about the progress of this new and very important field of science.  Keep reading if you want the latest inside look on plants in space.

Today in lab, we brainstormed ideas for sowing seeds on plates using different methods.  The standard for sowing arabidopsis (model organism) seeds is pouring a gel-like media in a petri dish.  Then the seeds are gently placed on top, the dish is sealed, and you’ve got plants you can watch grow.  It’s very standard for plant biology researchers.  Simon, Richard, Big Rich and I sat around in the morning discussing ways to sow seeds without pouring the gel-like media (the process of making gel requires lab equipment).  We want to make astrobotany research accessible for students.  We don’t want them to have to deal with the hassle of making media in a sterile environment and worrying about contamination.  Right now, we are considering trying to sow seeds on regular filter paper  (yes, it’s possible!), media-soaked filter paper and others.  We’ll see how this goes.

NASA GeneLab has updated their depository interface.  I’m not sure if it was today, but it’s been updated.  They’ve changed one of the interfaces connecting genes to phenotypes to a tree map format.

Word Cloud for GeneLab; Dr. Richard Barker

I worked on biological and computer protocol for a piece of equipment the lab is developing called FlashLapseFlashLapse is a plant imaging unit that Jerry Miao, an engineer in our lab, built to perform assays (experiments) relevant to our study.   I was working on the protocol for gravitropic assay (an experiment that stresses the plant by disorienting its position in space via rotation).  I even made a couple of sweet pictures for it.

Jerry and I ran a gravitropic assay using FlashLapse yesterday on 4 different mutant plants.  However the genotypes (type of mutant plant) weren’t visible because we did not label them properly (not our fault!).  I had to manually play connect the dots and unplug each FlashLapse unit to determine which genotype fit which image file.  It’s hard to explain, but it was a brainteaser.  I finally figured it out and emailed the correct data to Richard.

I’m also working on compiling a list of resources for all astrobotany information.  This includes people, labs, and organizations who contribute to the development of the field.  It’s cool because I don’t think anyone has done it yet.

Busy day, 11 hours in lab… but anything for astrobotany, right?

OH P.S. I went to UW Botany Club’s first meeting it was so dope.  Botanists are the coolest.  Everyone come join us at UW Botany Club.  Shout out Joe Zess, Derek and Steven.

Let’s grow plants in space.

– Kai