Maize Germination Experiment

Experiment I: Maize Germination Experiment


The first experiment will take a close examination of the formative first instances of a plant’s life. Germination is an eventful time, when the plant is drawing upon maternal reserves to emerge from the ground. All kinds of microorganisms are vying to become associated with this great source of energy – some will team with the plant while others will destroy it. It is clear that the plant is able to exercise some control over who enters and who does not, but it also appears to be somewhat of a free-for-all.

I see these main microbial players during the first hours of the plant life are those borne form the seed and those borne form the soil. It has been shown that the endophytes consist of microbes from both sources.

In this experiment I want to figure out how seedborne and soilborne microorganisms interact to become a part of the developing plant. I have a hunch that seedborne microorganisms will generally slow/limit the flow of soilborne microbes into the plant, by the principle of “priority effect”, in other words, just by merit of being there first, and occupying a niche, they have first priority. So, among my treatments, I will “sterilize” the seed of its microbial inhabitants, or plant the seed into sterile soil.

In-depth discussion:

Arguably the most pivotal time in the plant’s life is its germination stage, particularly when considering the assembly of plant associated microbes. Maize seedlings typically emerge from the ground within 10 days of planting, depending on soil temperature. During these first days of germination and seedling growth, the plant is exuding high quantities of organic matter and secondary metabolites, stimulating microbial populations. Seedborne microorganisms are interacting with soilborne microorganisms, with little or no contact with airborne microbes. Thus, some combination of the former two sources is likely to constitute the plant’s primary endophytic community, possibly affecting complex traits, such as the seedlings’ pathogen resistance. I will plant seeds in maternal soil (i.e. soil of the maternal plant) and foreign soil to deduce the influence of the particular soil environment in affecting the dynamics of seedborne endophytes.


3 comments on “Maize Germination Experiment

  1. Kevin Kane says:

    Looking for information on adaptability of non-local versus local native grass seed use in restoration. What would be reasonable plant transfer guidelines for grasses ? What research is there to provide direction in the use of local seed for restoration and how would a local seed source be defined ?

  2. I would like to be involved in the maize experiments and am interested in having my seed bank corn ‘Hopi Pink’ and blue corn tested since they are very old accessions they most likely have associated endophytes. I live in NM which is extremely arid yet the crops preform well with low input conditions of N in organic certified fields. Let me know, I can send a sample of the seeds and I plan to grow out three different corns this year (very well separated fields and staggered planting for tasseling independence). Thanks

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