• Question: Where do you find your plants to test ? Are they lab grown or picked in rain forests or the wild ? If lab grown does it have limitations if it doesn't have the natural products from animals or rain? If not does this limit you to quantity a if not lab grown ?

    Asked by u11bradshawt to Glyn on 21 Mar 2013.
    • Photo: Glyn Barrett

      Glyn Barrett answered on 21 Mar 2013:

      Hi there! Such a good set of question thanks!!

      I mainly focus on plants which people eat like lettuce or spinach – so agricultural crops. I grow all of these in a special room where I can control loads of conditions like the temperature, humidity, light levels etc. This link should show you a picture of one of these rooms. They are similar to what astronauts use in spaceships so its very cool!


      I normally buy seeds from garden centres or growing companies so I am using the same plants which people eat.

      You are right to say that lab grown plants will have limitations but a lot of science is about making sure you are in control of what is happening in your experiment. That way when your experiment is over you can confidently say that what you observed is true or not. If there were other things not in your control, like animals or rain, then your experiment might become messed up and confused.

      That said however, there are a lot of other experiments which use these uncontrolled conditions because they represent more what is happening in real life. I did some of these and they gave me some really interesting results. I was working on evolution of bacteria and evolution is influenced by all these uncontrolled conditions. I could talk about it for ages but I didn’t really want to bore you with it. If you want to know more I would be more than happen to explain in more detail 🙂

      Also, I would never pick plants from the wild especially not the rain forest. There is already too much destruction to these wild places they don’t need me contributing to digging up things 🙂 I actually have turned my garden into a wildlife sanctuary with loads of native flowers and plants. And I get quite a few mammal, amphibian and bird visitors.

      I also work with stopping disease in trees. At the moment most of the horse chestnut trees in England are dying from a disease caused by bacteria. It really affects the leaves and most of the trunk, look at this picture
      Its a really horrible disease for trees. Just like people getting measles or worse! I want to help trees so I work on the bacteria which do this to try to stop it.

      Thanks again for your great question. Please ask me if you want to know more 🙂
      And you could ask your teacher if she/he would like me to talk about my work in your class.

      Have a great day