Wisconsin Fast Plants Network

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We recently received the following note from a student who would like to share data with others about the hairy trait. We invited this student to join our network to see if others on the network might have some interesting data and/or experiences to share about similar studies with Fast Plants. Here is text from the note, and attached is the data that was sent along with it.
We hope this kind of data sharing will grow on our network!

Hi, I am a student at Ames High School. I am currently doing a biology science project using your plants. My teacher had these plants and he recommended that I should use these plants as they are easy to do projects with. I am currently trying to artificially select plants to make the "hairiest plant". I am going through different generations and selecting the hairiest to continue breeding. I currently have data for 2 generations, and I am on my third generation. I was wondering if you guys had any data that you will be able to share with me concerning hairy plants. I have all the basic information on the plants from the site. I have done two generations and wanted to compare how it was going, since some of my numbers did not look correct. I would like to share both my data and the data that I could get, to compare both for my presentation. If you guys don't have any data on your hands, is there a way to contact somebody else to exchange data with? My project would be great enhanced if I am able to get more data if possible, and my teacher says sharing data is allowed. Thanks in advance. I will attach my data for both my generations just in case.

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I've attached a couple of images of graphs from work some of my students did back in the 90's. You'll find they are very similar to the data provided in the hairy selection activities described on the Fastplant web site.

After counting hairs on the petiole of the first true leaf (First generation) my students selected the 15 hairiest individuals in that population to act as parents for the second generation. The data for the parents of the second generation was:

Mean number of hairs: 26.7
Standard deviation: 6.4
Range: 21

Note that the second generation's vital hairy statistics are not as "hairy" as their parents but hairier than the first generation population.

I'm curious about the parents that were selected in the first generation. I've looked at your spreadsheet and I notice that your first generation had a population of 69--I probably would have only selected the seven individual plants that had a hair count of 50 and above as my parents for the next generation. Did you do something like that?

When we did our second generation, we had a cut-off point for the plants that would continue to breed. I don't have the number off the top of my head, but I think it was 15. Then those plants would breed with each other for the next generation. I will check my notebook and see if I have another data table because I remember we ran into a problem with a generation and started over, I will just look over my data once again. Since one plant produced more than one seed I would replant some of them, plus some plants don't always grow, so the number might vary. And I am using the frequency to compare the generations. Also thanks for sharing the graphs, I will show it to my partner and teacher. Thanks again.
If you did use a small portion of the population (the hairiest) I'm wondering if you accidently might have mixed up your pollinator tool or maybe you didn't isolate the plants well enough. When we do this lab in class, because you can't count on every student we isolate the hairy parent population from all other fastplants in the room--and we do this before any flowers appear. We also make one pollinating stick for just the hairy parents--we don't let it out of our sight.

I don't understand the part about more than one seed--every fastplant individual should produce multiple seed pods with multiple seeds....
Sorry, I meant to say multiple seeds. So I had more seeds to work with for generation two.

I see your point with the isolation with the plants, that might mess up the data. But with our first two generations we would count the amount of hairs on each plant after a specific amount of days. Then if any plants that would not quality the cut-off we would cut and destroy them. Then we would wait until the plants came to a pollinating age to pollinate them. By using the school's green house we also isolated the plants from possible insect pollinations. We used "bees-on-a-stick" to pollinate the plants. By the way this was a class project before and I decided to continue the project for my bio project. I am sharing data with another person who is also doing the same project. And I thought it would be good if I could get other data from other people just as comparing reference. I am not going to use it for my data, but to show in my project that results may vary from people to people. My teacher said this would be ok if I will give credit for others data. I am currently on the 3rd generation, and I am in the middle of counting the hairs. I have changed the project from our class project. Because one day when I was counting the hairs on my plant, I noticed that the taller the plant the more hairs it has, but eventually these hairs would fall off after they even grew taller. So after looking and analyzing the parallelism of height and hairs I decided to count my plants when they reach a certain height, and I have adjusted this height to 2cm. So after a plant reaches 2cm I would count the hairs and record the data.

I will talk to my teacher and my classmate I am using data with about the isolation to see if we could do anything. Once I have 3rd gen data I will also post it.

Burak, I just want to add a quick comment about how impressed I am with your efforts here to communicate specific information about your experiment--the actual evidence, which you have clearly made strong efforts to track accurately. The quality of this discussion is much higher because you are able to refer specifically to your procedures and observations. Nice work! This is an interesting project.
Thank you. I enjoy biology very much, and this project seems very fun.
Not only what Hedi says, Burak--but it also takes courage to put your work out there like you have. That is an essential part of doing science--sharing your ideas and trying to persuade others. Good on you....

Thanks. But I can't take all the credit for this project, we started as a class, and I am just continuing it for my individual project. I have yet to still collect much more data and other information.
Hi Burak:I really like the project that you and your partner are undertaking to breed a very hairy rapid cycling Brassica rapa. There is great potential in your project and the way you are approaching it to learn much about the genetics underlying the inheritance of the hairy phenotype. I will be posting in my "Sand Box" under Rapid Cycling Brassicas some of my research notes, data and graphs that I have recently been working on undeer the title'Hairy's Inheritance". You are welcome to use the information I post in any way you wish. I will let you know when they are posted.

It's a really interesting coincidence, Burak, that the original two seed stocks, PI 175054 and PI 175079, that I worked with to breed and select from for what became Wisconsin Fast Plants came from the U.S.Department of Agriculture, National Plant Germplasm System, Plant Introduction Station in Ames, Iowa -- where you live! I got the stocks in 1973, when I ordered the entire oil seed Brassica collection from Ames. Those stocks had been collected from India in 1948, then brought back to Beltsville, Maryland, and then sent to Ames.

On the Fast Plants website, you can find several resources that discuss this history. To name a few: there is a short description of my work at http://www.fastplants.org/intro.history.php, a story that my wife, Coe wrote called The Story of Fast Plants at http://www.fastplants.org/intro.story.php
and more in with the Brassica butterfly investigation at http://www.fastplants.org/pdf/activities/Butterfly_Activity.pdf
Paul Williams
Hi Burak: I have just added 'Hairy's Inheritance data to my 'SandBox' at http://www.fastplants.org/sandbox.php?category=rapid_brassicas#menu. I hope this infomation will be of use to you and partner. If you need clarification on any of it, don't hesitate to question me. Paul Williams
Thank you so much for helping me out Dr.Williams! Sorry I couldn't respond yesterday.

Wow it really is a small world for these seeds.

I saw your data on on the link you provided and this will be great for us to understand our project even more, and there is even extra info on the plants which might answers some of our questions. I will be looking through them very soon. I will be sharing to my class how both our data's compared in our final project.

Currently we are in the middle of counting our third generation plants and we are comparing data from each of our plant batches.

Thank you again for your response and help with the data.





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