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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Hi, please send this message to the student.

I imagine you're trying to accomplish this project within the next month or so, but if you envision this project going on for several months, I'd be interested in connecting up with you later.

I plan to have my students start a project in July (we are a multi-track year round school) and I would like to know more about your parameters, protocols and procedure so we can keep the controls as close as possible.
Hi Diane,

Thanks so much for your addition to this "hairy" discussion! Burak, who is the student we can thank for starting this discussion thread, became a member of our network, so he will see your message and be able to respond directly here.

Your idea to have your class work on a similar project as Burak's class, sharing data and ideas on this network, is exactly what we envisioned happening here. Thank you!
Hello Diane, Burak, and others,

I have a question I'm almost embarrassed to ask, but here goes. What is the purpose of hairs on plants, and why is it valuable to count them? I'm just curious, even though they are probably not something I would have my elementary students keep track of.

Burak, was there sort of a "natural" question that you asked that will be answered by measuring hairs; or were you just trying to breed for the hairiest plant because that was your project? I just wonder what led you to try getting the most hairs possible.

Thanks! Pauline
Hello Pauline,

Great questions! I do not want to influence Burak's take on your question. However, when I saw this I wanted to respond to let you know that your question is exactly the type of question scientists are asking about the natural world. We, here at the Fast Plants Program, are continually asking these questions as we select and breed the rapid-cycling Brassicas and we encourage teachers and students, to continue to ask these rich and investigable questions.

This question is not too elementary at any level. We have worked with some elementary teachers on counting haris on the edge of the first true leaf. There was one teacher in Texas who decided to have their students breed the "Wooly Booger" or the hairiest Fast Plants population they could over four life cycles of selection. They investigated how the population of Fast Plants changed in regards to hairs if they selected for the top 10% hairiest plants.

Other teachers we worked with in connection to our Cabbage White Butterfly activities, (http://www.fastplants.org/pdf/activities/Life_in_Balance.pdf),
have investigated the impact hairs have on the ability for the Cabbage White Butterfly larvae to forage on Fast Plants. Do the larvae prefer hairless plants over hairy as a food source? If the larvae are raised on a population of Fast Plants and only the hairiest plants are not eaten, will the next generation of this population, after pollination, be hairier than the original population?

In regards to why Fast Plants have hairs. Scientist are asking the same question about plants in general. Dr. Schemske and Dr. Agren have researched the genetics and function of hairs on rapid-cycling Brassicas and have published their findings on heritability of hairs.

For more information on the research: Google "Schemske Rapid-cycling Brassica rapa hairs".

At the following URL provides additional information / activities from the Fast Plants Program on the selection of Hairs on Fast Plants.

This is great science. Thanks for posting the question!

The url has good data that can help me with the project. Thanks
This was my semester biology project. Beforehand I knew that plants were breeded all around the world to make the right one for peoples need. My class had started this project with the plants and we did not go to far. So I was wondering what I should do with my independent project and my Bio teacher said I can continue our class project and see what happens. Since we did not get that far in class, I decided to continue with the project. So my main goal is the make the hairiest plant possible using artificial selection. So my basic project outline was use "artificial selection" to make the plant that I wanted. And so far it has been going good, although I wont be able to finish the project completely but that is okay as long as I get a good start.
I would like to first apologize for replying to this post. I did forgot to reply until I got an email saying there was more posts. Well my project is due May 16th i believe, so i will be getting about 4 generations out of it total. This is my sophomore biology project, and I have to finish before this date so I really cant go for long. But my biology teacher wanted to keep my seeds so he can continue it for a class project and just have the seeds in hand. I know he will continue with his other classes to come. I really just planted the plants according to the direction sheet given to me by my teacher. I planted the control first and took the data and fitted into excel using the proportions. I just then selectively pollinated the plants while having a specific amount of hairs to continue. With my 60 or so plants I decided 15 hairs or above continue to pollinate, and remember some plants don't have any hairs at all. One suggestion to keep in mind is that the height and the hairiness of the plant relate. So keep an eye on it, as the plant loses hairs as it grows. Sorry again for the late response but I totally forgot about the post until I got an email today.
Thank you Dan and Burak. It sounds like the hairs are inhaireted ;-) so they are interesting to use artificial selection on, even if we don't know why the plant has them. Your replies give me some ideas about having my students try select and breed for traits, thank you. I will think about doing that next year when I have time for raising seeds a few times.





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