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Two SLCU researchers chatting at lab bench with glass wall looking out to walkway in SLCU building.

Behind the scenes of Plant Sciences

For Open Cambridge 2023, visitors to the Sainsbury Laboratory explored noise in biology in our Noisy Plants outreach activity. 

Any individual in a population and any individual cell is unique. For example, twin humans or cloned cats differ in appearance and personality. Even plants, with the same genes and grown in the same environment show a big variation. We use the term “noise” to refer to the measured level of variation observed at a population, tissue/organ and cell.  

The Locke Group studies “noise” and specifically, the noise in gene expression – what are the sources, how is it controlled and what are the consequences of noise.

In this activity, visitors investigated noise in seed germination and how noise might help plants to survive environmental stress.

All attendees received a take-home seed germination experiment to test whether heat or cold treatments affect the germination of coriander seeds.

Read more about the Sainsbury Laboratory's research into noisy genes: