I just returned from what was supposed to be a short chat and check-in with Stephan,the person leading our running barley experiment. This evening he planned the fungal infection treatment. When I came in, Stephan had finished spraying and bagging maybe a dozen control plants. Another 200 were waiting. He was very optimistic in that it would be late, but that he would make it work.
Maybe I’m a pessimist, but I disagreed. Not even the most efficient experimentalist could possibly have made it work. It looked as if he would have to pull an all nighter. I made the rare emergency call to tell Heike that I would be home late. I don’t like working crazy hours, but I’m a fan of flexibility when it is needed for a project to succeed. With two, we could immediately tell that the pace was already more than twice as fast than with one. Then we were suddenly spontaneously joined by Yuri, another PhD researcher who is involved in the experiment and just came by to have a look. I had met Yuri a couple of times before, but only via Zoom. Good to finally meet face to face. With three we were a machine! Suddenly we had a good time with three fully vaccinated people in one glasshouse. It almost felt… Normal?
Four hours later, we finished the control and pathogen treatments. Just before 10pm, all plants were bagged. The greenhouse looks like an army of trash bags, but it is with purpose. Phytopathologists have carefully instructed us on how to best deal with this pathogen. And it makes sense, of course. Plants are less well-defended under dark conditions, and therefore they will spend a short time in a dark bag to facilitate the infection (I can’t help but think it’s a failed pathogen if it really needs this kind of help but again, I may be a pessimist). The bags will be removed soon enough.
One step closer to a successful finish!