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Sainsbury Laboratory

 
Thin air, plants and food security banner with images of beans, impossible burger and soy crop

THIS SESSION HAS NOW BEEN HELD.

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO VISITED THE SAINSBURY LABORATORY DURING THE CAMBRIDGE FESTIVAL 2022.

Thin air, plants and food security

What do the impossible burger, greenhouse gases and bacteria have in common? And what does all that have to do with how some plants make fertiliser from thin air? Join us at the Sainsbury Laboratory to explore the world of nitrogen fixation, a fascinating topic fundamental to plant development and food security. Try out scientific techniques, take a tour of the Lab and contribute to our research, which aims to reduce the need for external fertilisers and understand how plants grow. 

What to expect during your visit 

During your visit you will discover the latest in plant biology research that is harnessing the superpowers of the humble bean and its bacteria friends to improve global health and food security. You will get first-hand experience of using molecular biology laboratory equipment for genetic analysis, including running PCRs to copy DNA and gel electrophoresis to then visualise the DNA of the friendly bacteria that help legumes make their own fertiliser. This event is suitable for those aged 12+.

Would you like to collect your own samples for DNA analysis? 

We will be exploring the diversity of soil bacteria that form symbiotic relationships with legumes like peas and beans. During your visit you will analyse the DNA of bacteria extracted from their tiny houses (nodules) on the roots of legumes. White clover (Trifolium repens) is a common legume found growing in lawns, allotments and pastures across Britain. We want to find out if the same or different bacteria are forming friendships with white clover in different regions. 

You are also invited to collect clover root samples yourself from your own property and post them to us before St Patrick’s Day (Thursday 17 March). This is an optional activity and you do not need to collect your own samples to fully participate in the event on 3 April. If you are interested in collecting your own samples, please indicate this when registering for the event and wait to receive a collection kit from us.

Further information

Please contact events@slcu.cam.ac.uk if you would like further information or have any questions about the event.