According to the plan, we were to meet Gul Abla at the cafeteria in the morning. Joe and I reached there after a little confusion with a lady, due to the language barrier. The guest house is right next to the lab and diagonal from the cafeteria. When I say cafeteria, it in no way resembles a school cafeteria, instead it looks like a grand restaurant with high quality food. The chef prepared us a special breakfast and it was delicious.
The typical schedule at the lab is
8:00 – everyone arrives at lab
9:30 – tea break
12-1 – lunch break
3:00 – tea break
5:00 – end of the day
This is vastly different from what I am used to with school and from what I have heard about most American offices. I have to say the breaks are quite energizing.
Soon after we arrived, we were given an overview of the on-going projects by a PhD student. CIMMYT Turkey began in 1925 and is supported by the Ministry of Agriculture. A variety of crops (cereal, legumes, crops, vegetables, medicinal plants, etc.) are planted for the different fields of research (breeding, agronomy, pathology, quality, water, disease etc.). Then Mark introduced himself and presented the research Joe will be doing while in Eskisehir. Joe is studying Crown Rot disease. It is caused by the fungus Fusarium and disrupts the flow of water and sugar (xylem and phloem) in plants, resulting in lower yields. Crown Rot can be identified by the whiteheads it forms and by a discoloration of the root. This disease alone causes roughly $80 million in losses for Australian farmers annually. Joe currently has test trials in southern Australia and a work site in Turkey. Crown rot prevalence has been shown to be mainly dependent on climate, topography, and moisture levels. Recently Eskisehir has witnessed a much higher rainfall than its typical spring, so later when we went to the field we noticed a lot of the discoloration in the roots. Mark also discussed farming practices in Australia. Recently there has been a no tilling push to retain water content and structure of the soil. This, however, lets the stubble remain which may in turn provides a congenial environment for Fusarium. Quantification is done using qPCR. After this discussion, we went to the green house outside. I was a little lost in conversation because all of this is so vastly different from my work with Drosophila at the Tootle Lab. Mark kindly stopped conversation every-so-often to explain the concepts being discussed. He explained how a wheat cross works in the field, how to distinguish wheat from barley, and a lot more. Then we went into the microbiology lab. It was a huge relief to see gel electrophoresis, micropipettes, centrifuges, and other familiar equipment. This is where Joe will spend most of his time and I may assist him when I can.
For lunch we went back to the cafeteria where they had a soup and fresh salad. In Turkey they add sour cranberry sauce and olive oil to their salads that makes them taste amazing. Following lunch we drank Turkish coffee. I have heard that Turkish coffee is a specialty enjoyed by many. Though I have never had coffee before, I am trying to be open-minded so I gave it a shot. Unfortunately it was far too strong for my taste and I wasn’t able to drink much.
We went to the field afterwards, and looked at the various experiments being conducted. The plants with disease are separated from the plants without disease by a barren field.
Once the work day ended, we went sightseeing in Eskisehir. The city is very beautiful. The hilly terrain provides great views. The city has a very Mediterranean feel with red roof tops and white buildings.
First we went to the old city which is a section of the city preserved as it was centuries ago. We entered the bazaar (open market) which was had many stores with hand-crafted plates, jewelry, and clothing. The white clay used is apparently a specialty in Eskisehir and can only be found in one other place in the world. There is a mosque nearby that we visited next it was built in (lskdjfald). I had to wear a headscarf to enter the mosque. The architecture inside was beautiful. The ornate dome was astounding and the fact that all of this was made by hand is even more incredible. We visited more stores afterwards filled with handicrafts.
We went to the other side of the city to a park we had nice view of the entire city. We could see all the way to the CIMMYT fields.
Next we headed to a huge bazaar where Joe and I got a chance to shop for necessities. I bought vegetables, rice, detergent, and a few more basics. Joe and I then wandered around the bazaar looking at the various stores. There is a river that runs by the edge with a footpath. I hope to go back there soon!
By this time all of us headed to a restaurant for dinner. We ate a variety of foods including grape leaves wrapped around rice with beans. After a few hours, we were stuffed and finally returned to the guest house.