Following a successful application developed by PhD candidate Kate Johnson, a group of researchers affiliated with the Centre for Plant Success including fellow PhD candidates Beatrice Harrison-Day, Vanessa Tonet, and Ibrahim Bourbia, along with Dr Chris Blackman and Prof. Tim Brodribb, travelled to the Australian Synchrotron in Melbourne to access its high-resolution Imaging and Medical Beamline (IMBL). With support from the helpful on-site staff, the aim of the trip was to utilise the beamline’s high resolution ‘x-ray vision’ to see into the water transport pathway in plants under a range of experimental conditions – though, as per Tim’s lab, there was a lot of drought and recovery experiments!
Having arrived with their somewhat unwieldy plant material and following an induction and tour of the amazing facilities (recommended), the University of Tasmania team set about their experiments in shifts, with Vanessa and Ibrahim taking on the late-night hours and Kate and Chris rising early. Beatrice’s experiments on wheat roots were a highlight and clearly showed some interesting patterns of cavitation during drought and a lack of refilling following rewatering. Overall, the trip was rewarding and fun and highly recommended for those wanting to gain insight into the fine-scale processes linked to plant structure and function.
The group was awarded 5 days of beamtime from 9-13 February 2022. The Australian Synchrotron is managed by Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and information about the facility and applying for beamtime can be viewed here.