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Heavy water and plants

David Hedrick davidbhedrick at nxs.net
Tue Oct 2 13:34:44 EST 2001


	Deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen - it has a neutron and a proton, as
opposed to regular hydrogen's single proton.  It is not radioactive.  It
is not bigger, it is heavier than protium.  Since it is heavier, it
reacts more slowly than regular water when making/breaking a bond to
hydrogen is the rate limiting step.  Don't try to figure which of the
thousands of chemical reactions in the cell are affected.  Not only are
there too many, but they are all happening at once, and synergistic and
paradoxical effects will abound.  
	Since every enzyme in the plant evolved to use H20, everything will go
wrong in D20.  The first thing to do, of course, is to find out what has
been done before.  Plants have been grown in heavy water before.  Don't
re-invent the wheel.  Since most basic nuclear research was done before
the advent of the internet, you will have to go to a library and use
bound paper indexes.  Be sure to check government documents as well as
scientific publications.  I don't know about availability in Germany,
but I think most of the US research is available there through NATO
	A quick check of the internet finds Bhatia & Smith at Brookhaven are
growing Arabidopsis in deuterated water.  No plants reached maturity at
over 10% heavy water.  

> >we are trying to grow plants in 60% heavy water (D2O). Growth rate is very
> >low, the leaves are very yellow, partly necrotic.
> >Has anyone experience with plants in D2O? Is there a possibility to enhance
> >the growth rate and the health of the plants?
> >
> >Any suggestions or hints are welcome.
> >
> >Carsten Richter
> >Humboldt-University Berlin
> >
> >
> You've increased the size of the molecule that must pass through the cellular
> structure considerably.  I wonder if this slows down the metabolic rate a lot.
> And what happens to the extra oxygen in the cycle?  CO2 production would be
> limited by available carbon ?
> Maybe increase the CO2 in the growth chamber and reducing light duration
> somewhat ?
> Kinda thinking out loud here.
> Dennis



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