Can human skin be used as a growing medium for a plant seed?

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Can human skin be used as a growing medium for a plant seed?

Postby ChristyK » Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:13 pm

My daughter is in the 4th grade and she's been studying about seeds. She had come across a story online of how a man ingested a pea into his lungs and it later sprouted into a 1/2" plant, which was surgically removed. Another story told of a man who had a 2" fir tree sprout surgically removed from his lungs. This led to my daughter wondering if it would be possible to scientifically test the hypothesis: Can human skin germinate a plant seed under the right conditions (i.e. if it were to land in an open wound or the subcutaneous fat layer, for example). Of course, for testing purposes,we wouldn't use real human skin in the process which I why I was wondering if you could guide me as to where I would even begin to test this theory. To do this, I've thought about using ballistic gellatin but it would need to be kept at a temperature of 98.6 degrees F. It is commonly known that seeds need oxygen and sunlight to thrive; however, based on the above stories, it seems that sunlight isn't always necessary as long as the temperature is relatively warm for the seed to begin the germination process. Do you have any suggestions, comments, or ideas about this project? I could really use as much information as possible. Thank you for your time and assistance, as it will be greatly appreciated.
ChristyK
 
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Project Question: Can human skin be a possible medium for seed germination
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Re: Can human skin be used as a growing medium for a plant s

Postby sunmoonstars » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:16 pm

Hi,

That's a really interesting question! Yes - those reports about plants germinating in lungs would be pretty interesting to test. Be sure to keep the idea of germination separate from thriving/growing. Plants don't need sunlight for germination, but once it requires photosynthesis with leaves, thriving in the lung is going to be a problem. For that reason, and due to space, it's not likely those germinated plants would get much further than that.

But moving the seed and germination to an open wound is different - the seed would have a different environment to work with.

i think testing the specifics of human skin would be a challenge. You could use skin cells in vitro (cells grown in a dish in an incubator), but there would be alot of variables and conditions to work with. Perhaps you can adjust the hypothesis to look at specific extreme conditions to see if the seeds can grow.

Tonya
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Re: Can human skin be used as a growing medium for a plant s

Postby ChristyK » Thu Oct 31, 2013 8:41 am

Tonya,
Thank you very much for your reply! You've given me a lot to think about :)

Christy
ChristyK
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:34 pm
Occupation: Mother of a student in 4th grade
Project Question: Can human skin be a possible medium for seed germination
Project Due Date: February 2014
Project Status: I am just starting


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