cabbage-1353192__180Crop Cloning Science Experiment
If you are looking for a science experiment that is easy, cheap, and doesn’t take a ton of effort, this is a great choice. It takes a couple weeks to do it right, so you can’t wait until the night before to toss your project together, but it’s well worth planning ahead.
This science project shows how certain edible plants can be “cloned” and grown over and over. These principles are well known in the farming and agriculture community, but not well known elsewhere, so they can really impress others and take them by surprise.
Potential Questions for this Project
How can certain crops be cloned?
What parts of the plant are best for cloning?
How can cloning benefit the agriculture community?
Step 1: Choose Your Crop
This project can be done with a variety of crops, and you’re welcome to use more than one if you want to step up the level of complication. Some of the most common crops used are cabbage, celery, and potatoes. Any crop that can be replanted after taking a cutting from it.
vegetables-1212845__180Step 2: Plant the Crop
Let’s use cabbage as an example for this project. If you were going to do your project on what parts of the plant are best for cloning, you would do something like plant a leaf from the outside of the head of cabbage, a leaf from near the core, and then cut the core into three pieces (top, middle, and base.) Then you would also plant the three pieces of the core, and document which piece(s) actually sprouted and began growing a new plant.
Certain parts of plants contain a type of tissue referred to as “meristem.” This is the tissue that creates new growth. So you can use this version of the experiment to show which part of a head of cabbage contains this tissue.
Obviously you can alter this project a bit if you want to use celery or potatoes.
Step 3: Collect the Evidence
Make sure that you are writing down everything that you do, and that you are clearly labeling all the pots or jars with which pieces of the plant you have put into them. Even if something doesn’t seem to work, document it, since this could turn out to be important later on.
Taking photos of everything is also recommended, especially if this is for a science fair. You want to be able to show how you came to your conclusions!
Other Options
There are many directions you can go with similar projects, making it easy to customize this to your comfort level. One option might be to try growing a plant such as cabbage from a seed, alongside a cloned plant from a cutting in order to show the difference in growth speed and development. This is a great project to show why cloning is a great option for rapid production of quality plants.
At the end of this experiment, you should have some healthy new plants growing from the core of the original. These plants have the same DNA, and thus are clones. This is a fascinating and different project that you can do to “wow” your science teacher, or just to start your own fun clone garden at home.