Effect of Environment on Plant Growth

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The purpose of this plant biotechnology activity is to demonstrate the effect of changes in the environment on the growth and fertility of landscape grasses and crop grasses such as wheat and rice. Plants are placed in environments such as high salinity, cold, heat, or drought and learners observe the different reactions of the plants to these conditions. Learners compare the growth of treated plants to that of the control plants, which are grown under optimal conditions. Learners then discuss the desirability of breeding new types of plants that are better able to withstand these changes if they occur in the general environment. In the original description of the activity, the planting is prepared by the instructor as a demonstration, but learners could be involved in this process. This resource contains background information and questions for learners.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
1 to 12 months

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 25 germinated seeds of wheat or rice
  • 16 10-cm (4") pots
  • Potting soil/peat moss mixed 1:1
  • 5 small containers to hold pots
  • Aquarium or other clear container with lid or top
  • Table salt (NaCl)
  • Scale to weigh NaCl
  • 1-liter measuring cylinder, volumetric flask or kitchen measuring jug
  • Full spectrum grow-lights if necessary
  • Use of refrigerator or cold room
  • Filter paper
  • set at 28°C or in an area that is warmed by the sun
  • 10% bleach
  • Distilled water
  • Fertilizer (follow the directions for potted plants for whichever fertilizer you choose)
  • Activity sheets
  • Rulers or measuring tapes


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Agricultural Engineering
      • Bioengineering/Biomedical Engineering
    • Technology
      • Agriculture and Biotechnology
  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
    • Heredity and Genetics
      • Patterns of Heredity
      • Genetic Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
    • Measurement
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science and Society
      • Risks and Benefits
      • Ethics
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Gardening
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Stephens, Janice ; Leach, Jan


  • All rights reserved, The American Phytopathological Society, 2011