The rest of the presentations on grafting wrapped up yesterday. I had some questions on a few things that were discussed, so I was talking to Hank about a few things I wanted to look up on the walk back. Dr. Peter Hansen was walking ahead of us and heard what I was talking about, so he told me to stop by his office when I found the information I was looking for. It took me a few minutes, but I answered most of my questions on grafting and went to his office. After I told him what I had found out, he seemed interested and offered to call Willie, who currently works in grafting here at the AVRDC. Later that afternoon, Hank and I rode our bikes over, and I was given a crash course in grafting tomatoes. They had a tray of unused tomato seedlings, and after a few demonstrations, had me attempt to graft the entire tray. It was interesting and pretty challenging as you have to get the cut exactly right so you can match the new top of the plant to the new bottom.
Today we went and started to work with backcrossing, which is the process of selectively breeding tomato plants with a parent that has a trait you want. In order to do it, you have to very carefully remove the pollen from inside the petals, without injuring the very delicate stigma, a section of the female reproductive system in plants, inside. After you remove the pollen, you have to gently dip the tip of mature stigma into the pollen of your plant of choice. If done correctly, the plant will be pollinated and the fruit and seeds it produces will hopefully contain the desired traits of both parent plants.
I also went into the Bacteriology lab and helped cultivate new Petri dishes with bacteria strains they’re testing. Using a sterilized loop, you have to gently spread colonies from an old dish in specific patterns. The colonies I was working with mostly affect tomatoes and eggplants and will be inoculated on Friday.
Besides all of that, I went for a run with a group last night. There were snails everywhere from the rain, and I’m pretty sure the lizard eggs have hatched since there are way more babies running around lately. I caught the snake that I had seen in my room. I put it in a cup and showed some people, but since it doesn’t bother me and eats pests, I let it go where I found it.