Wednesday, 14 July 2010

SXR375 - Day 5

Day five - project start day. We get to do our own thing a bit more now.
Breakfast, and at last the mushrooms make an appearance.

Then down to the lab - and to decide on the project. Our team of three want to investigate the black leaved flowers and see what they contain. We started off with an ambitious three pronged attack, wanting to measure photosynthetic activity of green v. black leaves, the pigments in the black leaves, and whether the flowers had any insect attractants. After a few false starts with the oxygen electrode we decided to leave that bit. It looks a bit fiddly, and our initial tests were a bit difficult to understand.

We go and fetch some fresh leaves and flowers and set to work. We do chlorophyll extraction first, to see if there are extra pigments there. However nothing unusual shows up.

Then we set to work extracting the other pigments. Anthrocyanins and flavinoids.

The pinky one is from the flowers, and the darker red from the leaves. We leave them evaporating and go and get some lunch (chicken fajitas - pretty good i have to say).

The afternoon brings mixed results. We get very poor TLC plates for the pigments - although the flavones come through. We rerun them a number of time but a smear is the best you could describe them as.
We attempt to use the UV spectrophotometer, but it appears to be a cranky old beast and ignores our best attempts. Then we notice that the visible light spectrophotometers dip into the UV a bit, and they are far easier to use in comparison. So we do a few runs of that, and get something we can talk about I think.
In the end - it looks like we have the data to talk a story, but there is one more thing that would help, and I ask Andy about full spectrum of the pigments.
He told us how it can be done, so that's one more thing for tomorrow.
Tea time (mushroom soup - good,  beef steak - ermmm passs, chocolate sponge - not the best ever). Then another two tutorials. One on our upcoming presentation to the group, and then another on our final piece of written work, and where the marks will be.

We were all a little tired now, and trudged back up the hill. The bar called, and most of us answered.

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