Lesson #2: Never Trust a Cabbage
Team Biology has wasted no time in beginning an experiment to biogeochemically remediate lake Menomin. Toxic conditions at this lake have been accredited to Microcystis aeruginosa, a freshwater cyanobacteria, who fully takes advantage of the overabundance of phosphorus in the lake. Our plan is to introduce a plant species who will uptake the phosphorus before the Microcystis can. Preparation for this experiment has been long and labor intensive as our team has worked tirelessly shedding blood*, sweat, and tears in the name of science. The plants will sit atop rafts constructed from 2X4s, chicken wire, and pool noodles. We will be using collard greens in this experiment considering they are known to uptake a considerable amount of nutrients and are fairly hardy plants.
While prepping for the experiment, our team had to rinse the soil off of, measure root length, measure shoot length, photograph, and label 80 collard green plants. About 75 plants into the process one teammate noticed a cabbage plant label among the mix. Soon after we had discovered that a large amount of cabbage plants had been rinsed, measured, and photographed. My heart dropped and unspoken curses filled our minds then seeped out into the chilled air. We had all been betrayed by the cabbage plants, whose juvenile stage much resembled that of the collards. Although we had lost hours of labor, defeat was not accepted. After a quick trip to fleet farm, the measuring, photographing, and labelling resumed until 80 collard green plants had been processed.
As soon as our last raft was launched today, I was overcome with a great sense of relief and gratitude to everyone who helped us**. In the upcoming weeks team biology will be monitoring the test sites to see how well the collard greens are at remediating the lake. In addition to our plant experiment, we will also be trying to germinate seeds using varying levels of sediment from the lake. I am really looking forward to finding out what will happen!
*Side note: no one seriously bled, just a bunch of pricked fingers from hardware cloth*
**Shout out to Amber, Kayleigh, Jimmy, Madison, Stephanie, Elise, and Saide!!