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How will simulated
drought conditions
affect soybean

I. Question
How will simulated drought conditions affect soybean growth?

II. Hypothesis
Soybeans allowed to germinate under regular moisture conditions will demonstrate more radical growth
during the 168 hour (seven day) growth period than beans germinated under simulated drought
conditions. Adding glycol to the growing medium will alter osmotic pressure to mimic drought-like

III. Variables and Controls

Table 1 identifies the experiments independent and dependent variables and noteworthy controls
Independent variable Glycol concentration/osmotic pressure Varying proportions of water and
glycol were used to alter the osmotic pressure in the seeds.
Dependent variable Radical length Length in centimeters was measured using a twist tie bent to
follow radical growth and measured straight against a ruler.
Controls Exposure to light The petri dishes were placed under a grow light
Mineral composition of water One tap water source was used for
all petri dishes
Temperature of water One tap water source was used for all petri
dishes (10C)

Several studies provided background and expected behavior information:
Drought Stress and Tolerance in Soybean (Yee-Shan Ku, Wan-Kin Au-Yeung, Yuk-Lin Yung,
Man-Wah Li, Chao-Qing Wen, Xueyi Liu and Hon-Ming Lam),
How Soybeans Respond to Drought Stress (Roger Borges),

IV. Materials
Four plastic petri dishes
White paper towel, cut to four 6
7 mL polyethylene glycol (PEG)
10 mL graduated cylinder
1 mL pipette
12 soybean seeds
33 mL tap water
Grow light
Centimeter ruler
Plastic twist tie
Latex or nitrile gloves and safety
goggles (glycol is an irritant)

V. Procedure
1. Four petri dishes of different growth solution were prepared (10mL water:0 mL glycol, 9mL
water:1mL glycol, 8mL water:2mL glycol, 6mL water:4mL glycol)
. Glycol was added with a
pipette to water in a graduated cylinder. A paper towel square was scrunched up and used to
cover the opening of the graduated cylinder. The cylinder was then shaken to combine the
water and glycol, and the solution was poured into the paper towel square until all liquid was
2. Three soybeans were placed into each of the four petri dishes. They were completely enveloped
in the saturated paper towel.
3. The petri dishes were placed under the grow light for a total of 168 hours, with observations
made three times during this period.
4. Radical lengths for all soybeans were recorded to the tenth of one centimeter. The plastic twist
tie was bent to follow the shape of the radical, then straightened and measured against a ruler.

The idea to use glycol to simulate drought condition by regulating osmotic pressure with glycol comes
from the study Weed Seed Germination Under Stimulated Drought by Hoveland and Buchanan. The
authors in turn took inspiration from the PEG method used by Parmar and Moore (1965).

VI. Data and Presentation
Table 2 presents quantitative data of radical length (raw and averaged) at three times.
Date Hours since
water added
10:0 radical
length (cm)
9:1 radical
length (cm)
8:2 radical
length (cm)
6:4 radical
length (cm)
3/4 24 0, 0, 0 (avg: 0) 0, 0, 0 (avg: 0) 0, 0, 0 (avg: 0) 0, 0, 0 (avg: 0)
3/7 96 0, 1.4, 1.8
(avg: 1.1)
0, 0, 0 (avg: 0) 0, 0, 0 (avg: 0) 0, 0, 0 (avg: 0)
3/10 168 1.6, 4.6, 5.9
0, 0, 0 (avg: 0) 0, 0, 0 (avg: 0) 0, 0, 0 (avg: 0)

Average values were calculated as follows:

For example, the average value in the 10:0 group after 96 hours was calculated as follows:

The resulting averages are listed in Table 2. These values were then plotted in Figure 1.
Figure 1 shows average radical growth plotted against time since water was added.

0 50 100 150 200




Time since water added (hours)
Average radical growth
10:0 group
9:1 group
8:2 group
6:4 group

Figures 2-5 show the petri dishes after 24 hours. The control group shows healthy development with the
radical about to emerge. The 9:1 group looks as if it will burst as well, but by the end of the experiment,
the radicals had not emerged. The 8:2 and 6:4 groups with glycol show early signs of shriveling that
became more pronounced for the duration of the experiment.

VII. Conclusion and Evaluation
Only the seeds in the 10:0 group produced radical growth during the 196-hour period. While
some swelling of the seeds in the 9:1 group was observed, no radical formed. Though additional
recording times would be necessary to verify the trend, it appears that the growth in the 10:0 group
followed an exponential growth pattern. The experiment produced very limited data, making further
analysis difficult. It is therefore necessary to complete a follow-up experiment with a modified
In the follow-up experiment, the seeds should be germinated in water to develop initial radical
growth. Based on the data in the 10:0 group, this should take approximately 25 to 100 hours. Only after
they have sprouted should they be subjected to the water-glycol solution used in this study. This new
procedure will assume that, in the simulated drought, the seeds had access to enough water to
germinate, but further water supply was reduced.
Apart from the aforementioned, the experiment design seemed effective. The paper towels
provided an excellent growth medium; even after 196 hours, the paper towels (including the water
control group towel) retained enough moisture to keep the seeds from entirely drying up in their
proximity to the grow lamp. This being said, the fact that the moisture was contained in this small area

did lead to some mold formation. The mold appeared toward the end of the experiment and only
affected the paper towel in the 6:4 group. No mold was present on the seeds themselves.