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FastPlantsJackson69 karma

Great question, this is one we occasionally receive from teachers as well. It is very unlikely that Fast Plants would ever become an invasive species. In over 40 years of Fast Plants being used in education, we have never received a report of an invasive/escaped population.

Fast Plants growth requirements are easy to provide in a classroom/research indoor growing environment, but Fast Plants do not grow well in outdoor conditions.

Fast Plants require 24 hour lighting for optimal growth, therefore natural outdoor/solar light does not provide sufficient lighting and plants will be weak. Fast Plants also require continuous moisture availability; they are susceptible to drought stress and cannot survive the variable moisture conditions outdoors.

FastPlantsJackson22 karma

All of the above! Teaching/demonstrating plant life cycles is certainly a primary use for Fast Plants in the classroom. (You can watch an annotated timelapse of the Fast Plants Life Cycle on our Youtube channel here).

For teachers seeking Life Cycle lessons for their classrooms, here are links to free, Open Source Elementary and Middle School NGSS-aligned Life Cycle Investigations.

Fast Plants are highly responsive to their growing environment, so they can also be used to demonstrate the effect of different growing conditions on plant growth. Genotype x Environment = Phenotype. Changing the growing environment by modifying available fertilizer, soil volume, light intensity, temperature, etc. will result in variation in plant biomass, flower number, seed yield, etc. (Timelapse video of different lighting conditions here).

Since Fast Plants grow so quickly, testing the effects of different growing conditions can be completed in only a few weeks in the classroom, providing students with the opportunity to observe firsthand, the impact of different growing environments on Fast Plants growth.

FastPlantsJackson13 karma

Sound like an experiment to me! Maybe for an adult science fair? The control population could be irrigated with water and the experimental population could be irrigated with beer. Bonus points for trying multiple styles of beer in different populations!

FastPlantsJackson10 karma

Different plants have different lighting requirements for optimal growth and different photoperiod (length of day vs. length of night) requirements to complete their life cycle.

Some plants will be stressed if the dark period is completely eliminated. A good example of this are desert plants that have a CAM metabolism (vs. C3 metabolism in Fast Plants). CAM plants modify the opening of their stomata (pores) based on light/dark conditions. In 24hr lights, CAM plants' stomata will remain closed, preventing gas exchange and arresting development. In contrast, many other plants are perfectly tolerant of 24hr lighting and it may even increase their rate of growth.

Manipulating/controlling day length is a common practice in greenhouse floriculture. By simulating the day/night length of different seasons, plants can be induced to flower.

When Fast Plants were initially developed, over 2000 accessions of Brassica, obtained from the USDA National Plant Germplasm System, were grown under 24 hour lighting. Some plants were observed to flower faster than others, and these plants were selected for cross pollination.

In a sense, the growing environment provided a selective pressure. Plants that grew favorably under the 24hr growing environment (displaying ideal characteristics for a model population) were selected for continued development.

FastPlantsJackson10 karma

Fast Plants are fun to watch as they grow, something changes every day! So glad to hear you had a good experience with Fast Plants as a student and ended up becoming a teacher yourself!

Fast Plants can certainly be used in cross curriculum situations, in fact, one of our most recent lessons, developed for Middle and High School students, connects science, culture, and history as students learn about Brassica breeding and domestication. That NGSS-aligned lesson, Investigating Brassicas Around the World, includes a full lesson plan, discussion prompts, Fast Plants selection experiment, video, and supplemental readings/activities. All resource for that lesson are available/editable via Google Drive.