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Wednesday - October 24, 2007

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: General Botany
Title: Information about glucose concentration in plants for Science Fair project
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am a high school student enrolling in science fair. MY topic is as follows, "Can a plant be removed from the sun and put in dark and still survive if I directly inject glucose into the stem/roots (Dont know Which would work better)." Therefore i need to know how much glucose a plant needs/produces in one day and where to inject it. I also need to know how much to dilute the glucose due to its powder substance. Thank You Sincerely

ANSWER:

Glucose is one of the primary products of photosynthesis and is used by plants for growth and other energy requirements; and, as such, it may be converted into sucrose and other carbohydrates and often stored for later use. Providing glucose to the plant by injection would seem to be a viable option for providing a plant with an energy source in the absence of photosynthesis. However, determining what concentration of glucose you should use in your experiment isn't going to be easy since the concentration of glucose will depend on the plant, the part of the plant (leaf, stem, flower, etc.), and even the time of year. Since this is an experiment and Mr. Smarty Plants doesn't have any idea what plant you are using (besides there may not be specific information about glucose concentrations for the plant you pick), in your experiment why not you make one of the variables the concentration of glucose you inject. For example, you can inject one set of plants with a high concentration, another with a low concentration, and another with a concentration that is intermediate between the low and high.

For choice of injection site, the main idea is to get the glucose into the vascular system of the plant. Glucose is produced mainly in the leaves where the majority of photosynthesis takes place but is then moved via the plant's vascular system to other parts of the plant where it is needed. The xylem of the roots transports water and minerals up to the rest of the plant, while the phloem moves sugars and minerals throughout the plant. Since the stems are involved in carrying the water and minerals up from the roots and also in moving the products of photosynthesis from their sources (usually the leaves) to the remainder of the plant, they would seem to be the logical site for injection. Additionally, injecting into the roots would be more disruptive to the plant since the roots would have to be uncovered and disturbed each time the plant is injected. You might consider using various positions on the stem as a variable in the experiment, also. For instance, inject the base of the stem where it emerges from the soil on one set of plants and a measured number of inches above the base for another set.

To get an idea about the variations in glucose concentrations according to plant and various parts of plants, you might like to read the following articles:

Rosa, Eduardo; M. David; and M. H. Gomes. "Glucose, fructose and sucrose content in broccoli, white cabbage and Portuguese cabbage grown in early and late seasons" Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture, vol. 81, no. 12, pp.1145-1149. July 18, 2001.

Mahn, K; C. Hoffmann; and B. Maerlaender. Distribution of quality components in different morphological sections of sugar beet (Beta vulgaris L.). European Journal of Agronomy vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 29-39. July, 2002.

You may, or may not, be able to read these online. If not, you can probably get a copy of them via Interlibrary Loan through your local library.

 

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