at BioHack Waag Academy 2024

I. Propagating a plant is the process of creating new plants from various sources, such as seeds, cuttings, bulbs, or other plant parts. This can be done through several methods, each suitable for different types of plants and conditions.

common propagation techniques:

  1. Seed Propagation: This is the most natural form of propagation. Seeds are sown in appropriate soil conditions and, given the right environment, will germinate and grow into new plants. This method is commonly used for annual plants and many vegetables.
  2. Cuttings: This involves taking a piece of a plant, typically a stem, a terminal bud or leaf, and placing it in water or soil to root. This is a popular method for many houseplants and shrubs. The cutting develops roots and eventually grows into a new plant.
  3. Division: This method is used primarily for perennials. The original plant is dug up and the root ball is divided into several pieces, each with its own set of roots. These are then replanted separately. It’s an effective way to increase the number of plants in your garden.
  4. Layering: In this method, a branch is bent to the ground and covered with soil while still attached to the parent plant. Over time, the buried part of the branch will develop roots. Once rooted, it can be cut from the parent plant and transplanted elsewhere.
  5. Grafting: This involves joining two plants together so they grow as one. The upper part (scion) of one plant grows on the root system (rootstock) of another plant. This method is often used for fruit trees to combine the best characteristics of two different varieties.

Propagating a plant using the terminal bud in a laboratory setting involves several specific steps, aiming to ensure a sterile environment and the successful growth of new plants from the bud. Here’s a detailed step-by-step guide on how to propagate using the terminal bud:

Materials Needed

  • Terminal bud cuttings
  • Sterile gloves and lab coat
  • Sterile scalpel or blades
  • Growth medium (agar or soil-based, depending on the plant)
  • Plant hormone (rooting hormone)
  • Sterile containers or Petri dishes
  • Labeling materials
  • Growth chamber or controlled environment


  1. Preparation of the Workspace and Materials:
    • Clean and sterilize the work surface with a suitable disinfectant.
    • Sterilize all tools and containers by autoclaving or using a disinfectant.
    • Prepare the growth medium according to the requirements of the specific plant species. For agar, sterilize by autoclaving and pour into sterile containers to solidify.

  1. Selection and Preparation of Terminal Bud:
    • Select a healthy plant from which to take the terminal bud. The plant should be free from diseases and pests.
    • Wearing sterile gloves, carefully cut the terminal bud from the plant using a sterile scalpel or blade. The cut should include a small part of the stem below the bud.
  1. Treatment with Plant Hormone:
    • Dip the cut end of the terminal bud into a rooting hormone. This will promote root development. The type of hormone and concentration can depend on the plant species.
  1. Planting the Bud:
    • Make a small hole in the prepared medium using a sterile instrument.
    • Insert the dipped end of the terminal bud into the hole. Ensure that it stands upright and that the medium supports it without covering the bud itself.
    • Gently press the medium around the base for stability.
  1. Incubation:
    • Place the container or Petri dish in a growth chamber or an area with controlled environmental conditions suitable for the plant’s growth. This typically includes controlled light, temperature, and humidity.
    • Avoid direct sunlight and extreme temperatures, as they can inhibit the growth of new plants.
  2. Monitoring and Care:
    • Regularly check the humidity and temperature to ensure they remain within optimal ranges.
    • Look for signs of growth or any indication of disease or distress. Adjust the environmental conditions if necessary.
  3. Transplanting:
    • Once the bud has developed roots and shows signs of new growth (e.g., new leaves or shoots), it can be carefully transplanted into a larger container or directly into soil, depending on the development stage and the type of plant.
    • Continue to provide care tailored to the plant’s needs, such as adequate water, light, and nutrients.
  4. Documentation and Further Care:
    • Label each plant with information such as the date of propagation, plant species, and any specific treatments used.
    • Continue to monitor the plant as it grows, adjusting care as needed to ensure healthy development.

recommended book: PLANTS FROM TEST TUBES, an introduction to micro-propagation

II Chromatography


Chromatography is a key analytical technique used for soil analysis, especially beneficial in agriculture, environmental science, and forensics. It works by separating and identifying the composition of soil, including both anions and cations such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and various sulfates and nitrates. This method is crucial for assessing soil health, fertility, and detecting contaminants like pesticides and heavy metals. Ion chromatography, a subset of chromatography, is particularly effective due to its sensitivity and specificity in analyzing charged particles in complex soil samples. Regular use of chromatography in soil analysis helps ensure agricultural productivity and compliance with environmental standards. This technique also plays a significant role in forensic science, aiding in crime scene investigations by analyzing soil samples to trace locations and uncover crucial evidence.

Chromatography of Pfaiffer in the analysis of soils of productive systems

To perform a soil analysis lab experiment using chromatography with silver nitrate and caustic soda (sodium hydroxide),  follow these steps:

  1. Sample Preparation: Collect soil samples and prepare a soil extract by mixing the soil with water. This solution should then be filtered to remove solid particles.
  1. Chromatography Setup: Prepare a chromatography column or paper. In some setups, you might use a thin layer chromatography (TLC) plate.
  2. Developing Solution: Prepare a developing solution using caustic soda. The caustic soda will act as a base to help separate components based on their acidity and reactivity with the base.
  3. Application of Silver Nitrate: Apply silver nitrate to the chromatography system. Silver nitrate reacts with specific ions (like chloride, bromide, and iodide) present in the soil extract, forming a visible precipitate. This reaction helps in identifying the presence of these ions in the soil.
  4. Running the Chromatography: Allow the chromatography to run until the solvent front has moved the appropriate distance on the chromatography paper or column. The different soil components will move at different rates, separating based on their chemical properties.
  5. Analysis: Analyze the results by observing the distances moved by different components and the reaction patterns with silver nitrate. This can help in identifying the presence of various ions and their concentrations in the soil.
  6. Cleaning Up: Dispose of chemicals and samples according to safety and environmental regulations.

Artists use chromatography soil analysis in various innovative ways to incorporate natural elements into their artwork, enhancing both the aesthetic and conceptual aspects of their pieces. Here are a few ways chromatography might be used in art:

  1. Color Extraction: Artists can use chromatography to extract natural pigments from different types of soils and other organic materials. These pigments can then be used to create unique, earthy colors in paintings, textiles, or other mediums.

  1. Material Studies: Chromatography allows artists to study the components of different soils, which can inform their material choices and techniques. This can be particularly important for artists who focus on ecological or site-specific works, as it provides a deeper understanding of the local environment.
  2. Environmental Statements: Some artists use soil analysis as a method to make environmental statements. By analyzing pollutants or changes in soil composition due to human activity, artists can create works that highlight environmental issues like soil degradation, pollution, or the impact of agricultural practices.
  3. Interactive and Educational Art: Chromatography can be part of interactive art installations where viewers participate in extracting colors or analyzing soils. This not only engages the audience but also educates them about the science of chromatography and the natural environment.

Overall, the integration of chromatography into art practices allows artists to bridge science and art, creating works that are both visually appealing and intellectually stimulating, often with a focus on sustainability and environmental awareness.


Supercritical fluid chromatography for the analysis of natural dyes: From carotenoids to flavonoids   

Chromatographic and Spectroscopic Identification and Recognition of Natural Dyes, Uncommon Dyestuff Components, and Mordants: Case Study of a 16th Century Carpet with Chintamani Motifs:

Edible Earth with Dr. Masharu

Museum of Edible Earth, “brings together a collection of edible soils from across the globe. The museum invites the audience to review their knowledge about food and cultural traditions using creative thinking. The Museum of Edible Earth addresses the following questions: What stands behind earth-eating tradition? Where does the edible earth come from? What are the possible benefits and dangers of eating earth? How do the material properties in earth affect its flavor? Its goal is to constitute an extensive collection of soils suggested for oral use from the most countries possible and, through their different cultural uses and histories, but also with the help of cross-disciplinary partnerships, workshops and collaborations, redesigning and reconsidering the earth.”

foto: Archive of the Museum of Edible Earth, installation by Basse Stittgen, Amsterdam, 2023

Photo by Mathias Krogsøe