Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Caroline and I am a PhD student at the University of Sheffield. My research project focuses on Striga - a genus of parasitic plants that devastates harvests by infecting food crops. I am exploring the defence reactions that can make host plants more resistant against Striga. Due to my ongoing battles with anorexia, I haven't made as much progress as I would have liked but I am determined to finish the course.

This blog charts the ups and downs of life in the lab, plus my dreams to become a science communicator and forays into public engagement and science policy....all while trying to keep my mental and physical health intact. Along the way, I'll also be sharing new plant science stories, and profiles of some of the researchers who inspire me on this journey. So whether you have a fascination for plants, are curious about what science research involves, or just wonder what exactly I do all day, read on - I hope you find it entertaining!

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Who killed the tobacco?

Im pleased to say that most of my tobacco plants are absolutely thriving. Truly, these are the most satisfying plants that I have ever grown! Just after Christmas they were weeny little things but now they are touching the tops of the growth cabinets and have erupted into spikelets of beautiful pink  and white flowers. I am growing them as susceptible hosts for bulking up my parasite seed, which is running out. So Inge are looking hopeful!
I said ' most of my tobacco ' as two plants, unfortunately, didn't make it. They had always been a bit weedy from the start, with we loopy stems and withered leaves. They have finally given up the ghost, breaking off from their roots completely. I had a look in the soil and I think I found the culprit : tiny, transparent worms, no longer than a centimetre, and with black heads. When I informed Dale,head of Pest Control, he told me they were likely to be Sciarid fly larvae.
One that didn't make it...

It's humbling to see that such it organisms can fell what would otherwise have been a green giant and just shows how important it is to keep one step ahead of these pests, both in our growth cabinets and in the agricultural world. 

The culprit?

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