Blacksburg, Va., April 27, 2007 – The Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI), in collaboration with the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech, announced today the opening of the Biological Sciences-VBI Plant Growth Facility. Located on Smithfield Plantation Road and attached to the Ecosystems Simulation Laboratory (building 209), the 3,240-square-foot facility features five large plant growth areas or bays (432 square feet each) and one smaller bay for plant propagation.

The plant growth facility has been designed as a university service center and will operate on a cost recovery basis. The current weekly user fee is $25 per bench.

Biology professor Erik Nilsen, the executive Director of the new BIOL-VBI Plant Research Facility, remarked: "The new facility will act as a focus point for promoting interdisciplinary research and interactions among faculty and students in plant sciences from across the campus and the region. The Department of Biological Sciences is excited to have a state-of-the-art plant growth facility to enhance our competitiveness for research funding and promote scholarship in the plant sciences."

VBI's Executive and Scientific Director Bruno Sobral commented: "We are very pleased to be working closely with the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech in setting up this cost recovery facility for plant growth resources. The facility operates on the same cost recovery model that has proven to be successful for other resources at VBI. The services are available to anyone on the Virginia Tech campus who has an interest in growing plants under carefully defined conditions."

Each research bay contains two benches and researchers will be able to use space on an individual bench basis. Internal temperature, humidity and light can be controlled for each research bay individually. A state-of-the-art computer-regulated control system regulates environmental conditions and provides data for users. A preparation room with mist bench is also available for propagating plant material for research projects. The facility will provide watering and pest maintenance services for all researchers using the facility. External climatic data is recorded by an onsite weather station.

Visitors can take a look at the facility during an open house on Monday, April 30 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.  The resource officially opens on Tuesday, May 1.

For questions about the facility or to arrange a tour at another time, please contact Erik Nilsen at please enable JavaScript to view

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CONTACT: Sarah Larkins
(540) 231-1767; please enable JavaScript to view

Published by Guest, April 27, 2007