We finally managed to take some red spruce root samples a couple weeks ago. Since then, we have grown fungi from each sample on water agar plates, then potato dextrose agar. They have grown well and we have lots of interesting plates. The past few days we’ve been working on DNA extraction. We scraped a small section of fungi off each agar plate and put these samples into separate tubes. The tubes were vortexed then placed in a heat block. Today I transferred the liquid from the tubes to new tubes. This will be used for PCR and a gel electrophoresis. I am excited to see what kind of fungi we have grown!
My partner and I are studying mycorrhizal fungi. This type of fungi lives in the roots of trees and has a symbiotic relationship with the trees. It makes trees more resilient and helps them obtain phosphorous, nitrogen, water, and nutrients. Older, stronger trees can even pass necessary materials to weaker trees to help them survive using the network of mycorrhizal fungi. We are currently ppracticing our methods for our project using root samples from various baby trees and two “mother” trees. One of the first things we have to do is bleach root samples. We bleach them so that when we stain the fungi in the root we will be able to see it. Most of the samples are a yellowish color or nearly clear. Today I cut a small piece of root from the sample and looked at it under a microscope. I was able to see the cells fairly clearly. Some of the other root samples were darker and have not yet been bleached enough. Hopefully, we will be able to stain a few samples tomorrow to see if there is fungi in the roots.