Cryopreservation: Freezing Plant Tissues
|Time Required||Long (2-4 weeks)|
|Material Availability||Requires a sponsor to provide access to liquid nitrogen|
|Cost||Low ($20 - $50)|
|Safety||Must have adult supervision when working with liquid nitrogen.|
AbstractCryopreservation—storing seeds in ultra-cold liquid nitrogen—is one method for maintaining plant genetic stocks in seed banks. Can seeds withstand a really deep freeze and still germinate?
ObjectiveInvestigate how freezing seeds for different amounts of time affects their germination rate.
Cite This Page
Last edit date: 2017-07-28
IntroductionScientists have been using cryopreservation to build a "living" archive of seed genes. Some of these frozen seeds are kept in storage in the event of natural disasters that may wipe out an important crop. The question remains about seed viability and how long seeds can remain in a frozen state and still germinate to produce a healthy plant. In this science fair project, you will investigate how freezing seeds affects their ability to germinate.
Terms and ConceptsYou should understand the difference between these two areas of study: cryopreservation and cryobiology.
You will need to understand seed structure and germination to understand what impact cryopreservation will have on the seed.
You should also understand exactly what happens to plant tissues when seeds are frozen. What is the process for freezing plant tissue for preservation? What are some of the disadvantages/risks of this process?
BibliographyWhat is cryobiology and cryopreservation:
- Wikipedia Contributors. (2012, February 15). Cryopreservation. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved November 14, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryopreservation
- Wolfe, J. and Bryant, G. (1999). Cryobiology and anhydrobiology of cells. The University of New South Wales. Retrieved February 28, 2012, from http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/~jw/cryoblurb.html
- Hangarter, R. (n.d.). Corn Germination. Plants-In-Motion. Retrieved February 28, 2012, from http://plantsinmotion.bio.indiana.edu/plantmotion/earlygrowth/germination/germ.html
- Towill, L.E. 2002. Cryopreservation Of Plant Germplasm: Introduction And Some Observations. Pp 3-21. In L.E. Towill And Y.P.S. Bajaj (EDS.)CRYOPRESERVATION Of Plant Germplasm Ii. Biotechnology In Agricultural And Forestry Series Vol 50. Springer, London.
News Feed on This Topic
Materials and Equipment
- Seeds; we suggest using the following seeds for this experiment (at least 5 of each type):
- Supersweet corn
- Lima bean
- Cabbage, radish, broccoli (choose one)
- Access to a lab with liquid nitrogen
- Petri dishes, available from Carolina Biological, item #: 741250
- Cotton rolls, available from Carolina Biological, item #: 712635
Disclaimer: Science Buddies occasionally provides information (such as part numbers, supplier names, and supplier weblinks) to assist our users in locating specialty items for individual projects. The information is provided solely as a convenience to our users. We do our best to make sure that part numbers and descriptions are accurate when first listed. However, since part numbers do change as items are obsoleted or improved, please send us an email if you run across any parts that are no longer available. We also do our best to make sure that any listed supplier provides prompt, courteous service. Science Buddies does participate in affiliate programs with Home Science Tools, Amazon.com, Carolina Biological, and Jameco Electronics. Proceeds from the affiliate programs help support Science Buddies, a 501(c)(3) public charity. If you have any comments (positive or negative) related to purchases you've made for science fair projects from recommendations on our site, please let us know. Write to us at email@example.com.
- Suspend the seeds in liquid nitrogen. You should test at least four different time durations in the liquid nitrogen. You should also test at least five of each of the seed types in each of your experiments. Some time duration suggestions:
- Experiment 1: 1 day
- Experiment 2: 2 days
- Experiment 3: 3 days
- Experiment 4: 4 days
- After the appropriate length of time, remove the seeds from the liquid nitrogen.
- Prepare the petri dishes for germination. Cut the cotton slightly smaller than the diameter of the petri dish. Saturate the cotton in the petri dish with water and allow the dish to drain for 5 minutes as excess water will literally drown the seeds.
- Place the seeds in the petri dish and place them in the oven at about 70°–80° F.
- Observe and record the rate of germination for each of the seeds every 24 hours until they are ready for planting.
- Which time duration in the liquid nitrogen led to the best germination results?
Communicating Your Results: Start Planning Your Display BoardCreate an award-winning display board with tips and design ideas from the experts at ArtSkills.
Ask an ExpertThe Ask an Expert Forum is intended to be a place where students can go to find answers to science questions that they have been unable to find using other resources. If you have specific questions about your science fair project or science fair, our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.
Ask an Expert
If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:
Plant ScientistWith a growing world population, making sure that there is enough food for everyone is critical. Plant scientists work to ensure that agricultural practices result in an abundance of nutritious food in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. Read more
Agricultural TechnicianAs the world's population grows larger, it is important to improve the quality and yield of food crops and animal food sources. Agricultural technicians work in the forefront of this very important research area by helping scientists conduct novel experiments. If you would like to combine technology with the desire to see things grow, then read further to learn more about this exciting career. Read more
News Feed on This Topic
Looking for more science fun?
Try one of our science activities for quick, anytime science explorations. The perfect thing to liven up a rainy day, school vacation, or moment of boredom.Find an Activity