|1. Spare microwave.|
|2. Dangerous bits.|
|3. Neutered and running.|
|4. Rewired for UV.|
|5. Door disassembled.|
|6. The ultraviolet oven.|
The next step would then be to start experimenting with mutagenizing batches of seeds. To maximize the number of mutant plants which get produced, the basic idea is to dose the seeds at a high enough level to reduce germination by roughly 50%. It will probably take several mutations to actually kill a seed, so dosing them at this level will ensure that most of the seeds that germinate and survive will also be carrying mutations.
What sort of exposure can my new ultraviolet oven produce? Some really rough calculations indicate that seeds held within an inch of the bulbs for about five minutes would be approximately the same exposure that seeds on the space-station received over a year in direct sunlight. Seeds protected from UV, but otherwise exposed to space, showed higher survival. A few minutes in the ultraviolet oven should have a significant impact of germination, at least with smaller seeds.
Another thing to be tested is the effect on seeds that are dry vs. ones that have been soaked in water overnight. Plant embryos that have woken up and are metabolically active will be more able to repair DNA damaged by UV (a necessary part of converting damaged DNA into new mutations), compared to those that are completely asleep in dry seeds.
After I dose a few different batches of seeds, it will take another couple weeks to determine what impact on their germination was had. I'll probably do some really high doses, just to make sure I am likely to cover the range from no-impact to strong-impact. Once I get a basic idea of the range of doses that are interesting, I'll do more test exposures at intermediate levels to better resolve the dosage-response curve. All of this will take me several weeks further, so the next posting on this topic will probably be a while.