Image of the month

Jan11 - Basil

This month's image of the month shows part of a basil leaf as seen with the CfAM's Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope. The image was taken by Ben Cruickshank, a PhD student supervised by Dr Carol Wagstaff in the School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy. The image shows a variety of objects, known as trichomes, projecting from the surface of the leaf. The pointed structures are non-glandular hairs, the small round objects are capitate trichomes. The larger peltate trichomes are the location of the essential oils that gives basil its' characteristic scent and flavour. This work is investigating the effect of different growing conditions on the number of trichomes, and hence the flavour, produced by the plant. Such information provides commercial food producers with the ability to fine tune the crop to their customers' requirements whilst developing our knowledge of how the changing climate interacts with aromatic crops.

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