Hello, my name is Kieran Barrow for 4 weeks now I have been participating in a Nuffield Research project under the guidance of Dr Sarah Ayling. On this program, I have been developing some of the key skills needed in research based careers.
The investigation I have been working on was mycorrhiza fungi in drought conditions. This project involved the Simms Hill field site close to the UWE. On our visit, we gathered samples from land subjected to drought or control conditions. To gather the samples we used a random number table, and dug up small 10cm deep holes around Yorkshire Fog samples. We took five samples from each of the four plots/areas we visited.
Once the samples were collected they were refrigerated overnight. We then gently cleaned roots before leaving them in KOH for 48hrs. After the 48hrs we proceeded to remove the KOH and stain the roots with a Vinegar and Ink solution. We then boiled to de-stain. The process allowed us to clearly see the fungi, due to it absorbing the ink. This then allowed us to count them under a microscope.
The counting process involved recording the number of roots, or fungi crossing the vertical and horizontal lines on a grid below the sample. This process was repeated three times for each sample, which allowed me to analyse patterns in the data once done. In the end, no notable pattern was found. However, over the course of the project, I was able to learn a number of skills, which will definitely come in handy no matter where I end up working.
I’d like to thank Dr Sarah Ayling and her colleagues for the support and guidance during the project. I hope their research ends up yielding some good results.
By Kieran Barrow
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.