Hello my name is Ubah Yusuf. For 4 weeks, in August, I worked on the DRY (Drought Risk and You) project, which is looking at how drought can affect different types of species in grassland. My project was focussed on looking at the effect of drought on the colonisation of Yorkshire Fog (a grass) roots by mycorrhizal fungi.
I began my investigation by visiting a field site called Simms Hill which is about a ten minute walk from UWE campus. I collected 20 samples of Yorkshire Fog. We collected 5 samples from each of four plots. Two were drought plots and two were control plots. A random number table was used to gather samples. The samples were placed in plastic bags that were labelled and then taken back to the laboratory to be refrigerated and cleaned.
The samples were then cleaned and cut into 1cm segments and placed into centrifuge tubes with 10% KOH. The samples were refrigerated for 48 hours until the roots were clearly seen. Roots were then rinsed with 10% vinegar and water solution to neutralise the KOH and acidify the sample. Now transferred into a solution of Parker blue-black Quink ink and vinegar. They were heated at 100 degrees for 5 minutes. Roots were then de-stained for 40 minutes in water acidified with vinegar and placed in centrifuge tubes containing 70% ethanol and glycerol. They were refrigerated and left for observation. A small amount of the sample was then placed in a petri dish with a grid beneath it. The sample was spread evenly on the petri dish and then I counted the amount of times the roots and fungi intersected the vertical and horizontal lines.
After collecting data, I was able to work out the percentage colonization of mycorrhizal fungi. I also calculated the number of spores and vesicles. Extra data given to me like soil moisture tension and plant heights were also used to see if there was a difference between the plots. I concluded that the drought plots were able to receive more water than control plots.
I would like to thank Dr Sarah Ayling and anyone else who supported me through the 4 week placement. I would also like to thank the Nuffield Research Programme for giving me this opportunity.
The Nuffield Foundation (www.nuffieldfoundation.org/nrp) works through regional networks to link talented students with organisations undertaking research. A typical Nuffield student will be a 17-year old from a local school or college who has completed their first year of an ‘A’-level course in science, technology, engineering or maths.