Sarah Jose – Plant Genetics

Location: Bristol, United Kingdom

What do you do?

I am particularly interested in how plants protect themselves from dehydration. Their two main ways of preventing water loss are 1) by producing a waxy waterproof layer on their leaves called the cuticle, and 2) by developing pores called stomata which open to allow carbon dioxide to enter for photosynthesis, but which close to prevent excessive water loss in drought conditions. I am looking at plants with different waxy cuticles to see whether they also have differences in the way they pattern their stomata.

What can I see?

This is my trusty microscope. I image the cells of my leaf samples by making a leaf impression with putty, painting the putty with clear nail varnish, and taping the nail varnish onto a microscope slide when dry. This lets me look at the cells on the surface of the leaf in surprising detail! Then I can begin to count the stomata.

When I’m not doing science I…

am a keen science writer. I like to get out for long walks at the weekend though!

You can find Sarah on twitter at @josesci and find out more about plant science at her blog Blooming Plants.