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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

October 7, 2005

Biosafe greenhouse to open

by Teddi Barron

Iowa State's first high containment plant-growth facility will be unveiled Oct. 19. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the greenhouse addition to the Roy J. Carver Co-Laboratory building will begin at noon as part of the Plant Sciences Institute board meeting. The campus community is invited to attend the ceremony, which will feature brief remarks by President Gregory Geoffroy, Provost Ben Allen and Stephen Howell, institute director. Lunch will follow for invited guests.

The 4,200 square-foot greenhouse will be used by institute scientists for experimental plants that require containment, such as plants engineered to enhance nutrition or to withstand environmental stress. The two-level building has four growth chambers in the basement that are 10 times the size of standard growth chambers. The cost was $2 million and paid with state funds.

A Biosafety Plant Level 2+ (BPL2+) facility, the greenhouse is designed to keep pollen from transgenic plants from being released to the outside environment. Several features, which differ from standard greenhouse design, will ensure the containment:

  • Special filters on the exhaust air system.
  • Runoff from water used inside the greenhouse will be collected in holding tanks, then treated.
  • All windows are tempered safety-glass that won't break.
  • All windows are inoperable.

In addition, high-tech devices will control the environment, including computer-controlled automatic shades, an evaporation cooling system and extensive lighting that extends the day length.

The greenhouse and growth chambers will be available to Plant Sciences Institute scientists with specialized needs for this facility and scientists in the private sector who are occupants of the business incubators in the Carver co-laboratory. Following a "shakedown" period to test the building's systems, research plants -- mostly corn, soybeans, rice and Arabidopsis -- will be moved into the new space.


October 19, noon, Roy J. Carver Co-Laboratory greenhouse