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Mike's Blog - Day 246

I seem to still be able to find things for the blog, I’m sure I’ll make it to day 250, then the push will be on to make it to the end of November…

A view of the Biological Science research plot today.

This was a new bed we created in 2019 to show some of the work the department is involved with. It ranged from work to deter roots from water pipes, flax and breeding in natural resistance and some information about invasive plants.

In the small cold frame we grew the little Arabidopsis plants, a species that have been extensively researched over the last 30 years by scientists around the world so its genetics are well understood. They have a rapid life cycle, from germination to setting new seeds of about 8-12 weeks. It’s a small plant so lots can be grown in a limited space, and one seed can produce a plant with 50+ seed pods, each of which can have 30-60 seeds. The fact that this little plant belongs to the very important “cabbage/brassica” family of agronomic plants makes it one the most important plants to study plant genetics, molecular biology and biochemistry. Here is a picture of some of the Arabidopsis plants growing in the department's growth rooms at the moment.

We grew some of the other “brassica” plants as part of the display. One of course is oil seed rape which can be grown these days to produce “biodiesel”.

A solitary plant seems to have survived, although it could be another one of the brassica family we were growing - mustard.

Mustard has an interesting story and a link with Durham City. Apparently a Mrs Clements, back in 1720, perfected a way to grind up the seeds into a fine powder and make a very strong hot mustard. It's thought she worked on Saddler Street quite likely in what is Vennels coffeeshop these days. What happened after this is not clear but, at some point, Colemans took over production and it went on to be known as the now very familiar English mustard. But its roots (no pun intended, J) are very much in Durham.