Genetic Diversity in Heirlooms

devoidlingJuly 27, 2013

In heirloom seeds, how much genetic diversity is left? Can you selectively breed the line to what grows best in your climate or have they already been bread to near identical genetics?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is a complicated question to answer. For inbreeders like tomatoes and beans, there is very little genetic diversity left in heirloom varieties. They don't "adapt" very much from a conventional breeding perspective. Where there is some flexibility is in epigenetics. These are small changes that a plant can make in expression of genes to adapt to a given environment. Tomatoes in particular show epigenetic changes for adaptation to temperature extremes.

For outbreeders like corn, there is some room for selection, but it is usually limited by the years of selection that have gone into the variety. In other words, the more diversity has been reduced by inbreeding, the less adaptable the resulting plants become.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 5:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks. I'm growing in Texas and working on aquaponics so I was hoping that I could selectively breed for best performers for my situation, while staying heirloom.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 4:46PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
What tomato is this
I planted these tomatoes from seed off one my wife...
Homestead tomatoes
I don't know if they just don't like me or what, but...
black Siam tomato
I am growing a Black Siam Tomato this year and as with...
Grocery Store Heirloom Tomatoes
Forgive me, I bought 4 of them. Not having much of...
'Pregnant Onion' houseplant
Does anyone have any information on this plant? It...
Val - 8
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™