Setting up germination tests
I'm new to germination testing and will be running germination trials on lots of different species (mostly midwest natives). What kind of plates/containers do you use? What kind of media- agar, blotter paper, sand?) do you use and what do I need to know about keeping it watered/sterilized/labeled?
Do you always steralize your seeds before "planting" them? If so, what protocol do you follow?
Please share your trials and tribulations! Thanks!
At the California Seed Bank at RSABG, we conduct germination tests on agar and use 4.5" x 4.5" square plastic plates. They are reusable and last for a very long time. We use BD Difco Granulated Agar. Before plating seeds on agar, we dip them in a 20% bleach and 1% Tween 80 (a surfactant) solution for 1 minute. After the bleach and tween (BLT) treatment we sow the seeds directly on agar. Push the seeds into the agar a bit so they stay put, otherwise they will move around on the agar surface. The BLT helps control the growth of microbes, but doesn't completely supress it, so sometimes we need to retreat the seeds and sow them on a fresh plate. The BLT can also damage the seeds, so sometimes it's a bit of a judgement call between letting the mold get to the seeds and over-bleaching them. We label the test by writing directlty on the plate with sharpie, which can later be removed with alcohol.
Here is a link to a germination test sheet I created for MoBot. I would love everyone's feedback! What do you do differently? Can you share your germination data sheet?