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Plant Defenses

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Plant Defenses

Most, if not all, organisms have some type of defense mechanism that allows them to protect themselves. Plants in particular are sometimes vulnerable to outside factors, and for this very reason many plants have evolved to carry certain traits. These traits can allow them to protect the growth of the plant, as well as diminish action upon the plant, ie – via bacterial and/or viral activity. In a recent study, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or the USDA, an investigation was made regarding the effectiveness of household plants and spices on contaminants (PubMed). They discovered that many of these plants have ‘essential oils’ that harbor a certain natural barrier against bacteria (PubMed).
Results
In the lab, my hypothesis stated that: “Eucalyptus would provide a better defense against Bacillus cereus, when compared to Nutmeg.” Bacillus cereus ‘a spore-forming bacterium that can be frequently isolated from soil and some food’. These spores are more resistant to heat and chemical treatments than vegetative bacteria, such as Salmonella and E.Coli (EcoLab). If Bacillus cereus grows in food, it can cause two different types of foodborne illness in humans, vomiting or diarrhea, after a long incubation period (EcoLab). But according to the experiment it was proven that Nutmeg provided a much better defense. The results of the experiment illustrated how Eucalyptus only had a 9mm inhibition zone, while Nutmeg had a 22mm inhibition zone. Both the negative and positive areas remained unaffected by the mineral oil and alcohol, and bacteria grew at a normal rate.

Discussion
The hypothesis was proven to be false, because Nutmeg was the better defense system, not Eucalyptus. Nutmeg oil, or Myristica Fragans, which is obtained by the steam distillation of ground Nutmeg, and is used in perfumery, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries. For example, sometimes it is found in toothpaste, herbal tea, and cough syrup (Essential Oils). It should only be used in moderation, because it is potent in large amounts, becoming hazardous, as well as toxic. It benefits both the nervous and the immune systems, and combats bacterial infections with antiseptic and antiparasitic properties (Essential Oils). Meanwhile Eucalyptus, or Eucalyptus globulus, is usually utilized for “pain and swelling of the respiratory tract mucous membranes, coughs, bronchitis, sinus pain and inflammation, asthma, and other respiratory infections (Medline Plus).” It comes from a tree, and the dried leaves and oil are usually taken for medicinal purposes. Eucalyptus oil contains some sort of antibacterial property, which acts as a sort of defense towards bacteria, but at the same time it is not as strong as Nutmeg (PubMed). All in all, Nutmeg had a much larger yield, as seen through its inhibition zone. Its diameter was double the size of the diameter of the Eucalyptus inhibition zone.…...

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