Greenhouse Basics and Transgenic/Regulated Materials Policy

Please contact PCF Assistant Director to schedule individual orientation if you are new to working at the greenhouses.

WPS Trainings: WPS Safety Training Sessions will be hosted remotely for PCF researchers and workers each semester. This safety training will be offered for all greenhouse workers and growth chamber users who work or perform tasks in an area where a pesticide has been used or a restricted-entry interval has been in effect in the past 30 days.

  • Worker: Worker is defined as any person who is employed and performs activities directly relating to the production of agricultural plants on an agricultural establishment.

Transgenic Plant Material: Handling and Disposal**

Transgenic plant material (BL-1 or BL-2) must be grown in an isolated room that is kept locked at all times. All plant material must be rendered biologically inactive by the use of live steam or by autoclaving. The Turner Hall and Plant Science Greenhouses have autoclaves managed by PCF Staff. The Plant Care Facility has BL-1 space in the Plant Science Lab Greenhouses with limited space for BL-2 in the USDA section of Turner Hall Greenhouses. 

Please contact PCF Staff for instructions on how to dispose of transgenic or regulated plant and soil materials in the greenhouses and to schedule autoclave waste pickup.

Projects need to be registered with the Biological Safety Committee on campus under the guidance of the Department of Environmental Health and Safety (DEHS). All BL-2 projects need to have a Registration Assessment from this committee. The research group is responsible to explain protocols and train anyone handling hazardous materials on Campus. A copy of the Registration Assessment should be provided to the PCF Coordinator on all BL-2 projects. A one paragraph summary for all BL-1 projects should be provided to the PCF Coordinator to keep on file or registration number can be listed in the Project Request Form. The researcher needs to inform the PCF Staff of any special needs or precautions to be taken regarding their project so PCF staff can take appropriate actions when providing services.

Additional References

“A Practical Guide to Containment: Greenhouse Research with Transgenic Plants and Microbes” by Patricia L. Traynor, Dann Adair and Ruth Irwin, Information Systems for Biotechnology, Virginia Tech, 2001.

Regulated Materials **

Research groups are encouraged to proactively communicate regulatory needs/permit requirements for regulated organisms or materials with PCF staff to ensure proper protocols are in place to support research activities in the greenhouse. PCF has the right to decline service if no established protocols are provided for the regulated material, registration is unverified, or operations cannot reasonably support permit requirements/regulatory needs.

Greenhouse User* and Researcher Responsibilities 

  1. Submit a Project Request Form to receive space assignment; please allow 1-2 weeks based on space availability. Availability may be delayed seasonally. 
  2. Contact PCF staff by email or in person if there is a need to make changes to project setup or timeline, greenhouse conditions, watering or fertilizer schedule,  questions, or if you need assistance.
  3. Contact PCF staff if you notice issues with building equipment, there is a building emergency, flooding, or broken glass immediately.
  4. Maintain open lines of communication with PCF staff concerning project status, routine, project needs, or timeline as it relates to use of facility.
  5. Maintain organized, clean work spaces while using the greenhouses. If you need to store items in the greenhouse long-term, please contact PCF staff.

*Greenhouse User is a member of the faculty, staff, or researcher who is designated as the Principal Investigator (PI), course instructor, faculty advisor for a graduate/undergraduate student, lead project contact, or graduate/undergraduate/visiting scholar worker for a research group.

**Individual faculty and staff members are ultimately responsible for the organization of their students’ use of the PCF facilities. It is the responsibility of the research group to ensure the integrity of research protocols and that permit requirements or research needs are communicated to PCF Staff.  The research group is also responsible for actively following  permit requirements for transgenic and regulated materials,  ensuring PCF protocols described in the above policy ‘Transgenic Plant Material: Handling and Disposal’ align with  project requirements, and maintaining continuous communication of regulatory needs with PCF Staff while working in the greenhouses.