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THE STRENGTH OF PLANT FIBRES

APRIL 26, 2017 SCL LEAVE A COMMENT

Core Practical 8 – From Topic 4 (Biodiversity and Natural
Resources)
Aim: To determine the tensile strength of plant fibres.
Independent Variable: The type of fibre used (from different plants)
Dependent Variable: The amount of mass that can be added before the fibre snaps
Control Variables:
 Length of fibre – each fibre should be roughly the same length for a fair comparison
 Size of each individual mass – a set of the same weights can be used
Equipment:
 Stems of stinging nettles or celery
 Bucket
 Gloves
 Paper towels
 2 clamp stands
 A set of the same type of weights (that can be added in increments)
 White tile
 Sharp knife
Method:
1. The plant material should be left to soak in a bucket of water for about a week in order for
the fibres to be easily extracted (retting).
2. Once the fibres have been removed, connect them between 2 clamp stands and gradually
add mass in the middle until the fibre snaps. Note the mass required to snap the fibre.
3. Try this again but with individual fibres from different plants and different ways of
combining fibres (e.g. twists). You can also compare the tensile strength of the stem to the
individual fibres.
Results: You should observe that different species of plants have different tensile strengths
of their fibres. This is related to the plants ecological niche and how the plant has adapted to
it. You may also observe that more fibres bundled together results in greater strength,
requiring a greater mass to snap.
Conclusion: The strength of the fibres is thanks to the chemical nature and structure of the
cells that make up the fibre. Cellulose is a key component of cell walls and has cross-linking
thanks to strong, horizontal glycosidic bonds between glucose molecules and vertical
hydrogen bonds between neighbouring chains (forming microfibrils). A mesh of microfibrils
is then glued together with pectin and hemicellulose which allows for greater strength and
flexibility.
Lignin is a chemical found in cell walls as well which gives cells support and waterproof
capabilities. Middle lamella join adjacent cell walls together with calcium pectate – adding to
the strength of the plant fibres. The fibres may also contain sclerenchyma fibres – these form
long tubes for strength and support, featuring lignified walls as well. All of these features
give the plant fibres great tensile strength.

Evaluation Points:

neutral pH Why compare the effects of garlic and mint? The inspiration behind this practical is the fact that most kinds of toothpaste contain a mint extract. this practical will test the effectiveness of mint as an antibacterial by comparing it to the antibacterial effect of garlic. try to pick plants of roughly the same age and in the same location for validity. Variation within fibres (random error) – use a large sample of fibres with repeats for reliability. Since toothpaste is used to remove bacteria in and around the mouth. This will act as a negative control to see if the bacteria die regardless of plant material being used.wordpress.coli bacteria.com GARLIC AND MINT AS ANTIBIOTICS APRIL 27.1cm³ can be used per sterile paper disc each time  Contamination of culture – aseptic techniques and sterile equipment used to avoid contamination of bacteria culture  Temperature of cultures – all Petri dishes should be incubated overnight at the same temperature  pH of medium – an agar jelly will be used in each case with a consistent. Equipment:  3 Petri dishes where the agar is seeded with E.coli bacteria  Garlic and mint plant material  Pestle & Mortar  20cm³ industrial denatured alcohol  Measuring cylinder  3 sterile pipettes  12 sterile paper discs  Sterile forceps  Hazard tape  Marker pen  Ruler Control: Four sterile paper discs soaked in distilled water can be placed on a Petri dish seeded with E. Also. 2017 SCL 2 COMMENTS Core Practical 9 – From Topic 4 (Biodiversity and Natural Resources) Aim: To investigate and compare the antimicrobial properties of garlic and mint.coli will be used as the bacteria and it will be evenly spread across an agar medium  Volume of plant material used for each disc – 0. Ref: snabbiology. Independent Variable: Substance whose antimicrobial properties are being tested (garlic or mint) Dependent Variable: Zone of inhibition made by substance (area measured in cm²) Control Variables:  Same concentration of plant material used  Type and amount of bacteria used – E. Method: .

. Evaluation Points:  Contamination of microbes (random error) – use improved aseptic techniques. which interferes with lipid synthesis and RNA production in bacteria.1cm³ of the garlic extract solution onto 4 of the sterile paper discs. mint and control solutions – include the date. cm.  Uneven bacteria growth (random error) – ensure same lighting conditions used by keeping cultures under a lamp. 6. Clear and wash the area of work before and after with alcohol gel and wash hands before. 3. This inhibits growth and leads to the death of bacteria. There is no current evidence that mint possesses antimicrobial properties despite its component. Conclusion: The reason that the zones of inhibition for mint are greater is because it has stronger antimicrobial properties. being a mild anaesthetic. Wear sterile gloves and set up Petri dishes under a naked flame. Open each Petri dish and use a ruler to work out the zone of inhibition for each paper disc. Repeat step 1 but this time using 3g of the mint plant material. Crush 3g of garlic with a pestle & mortar and use a measuring cylinder to add 10cm³ of denatured alcohol to the mixture. Use the equation A=πr² where r. 7. Make sure that a small gap is left so that oxygen can enter and there is no build-up of anaerobic bacteria. Results & Calculations: Use a ruler to calculate the radius for the circular clear zones around each paper disc – this is the zone of inhibition. garlic is a fairly strong natural antibacterial. Label the other Petri dishes for garlic. 2. 5. The active ingredient in garlic is allicin. menthol.1. Use the sterile forceps to place all 4 discs of each type of extract onto their corresponding Petri dish. is the radius to work out the area of the zone of inhibition in cm². On the other hand. You should observe that the mean zone of inhibition for the garlic extract is greater than that of the mint’s. 4. Close each dish and seal with hazard tape. Pipette 0. Allow each disc to dry. Leave the cultures to incubate overnight.  Not shaking extract enough to ensure enough active ingredient (random error) – use a centrifuge to separate and mix the extract. Repeat this process for the mint extract solution. Shake the mixture occasionally for 10 minutes.