Cloning Plants and DNA breakdown?

technologygardenJuly 28, 2008

Hi All, This spring I started cloning some of my heirloom tomato plants to give to friends and family and will also be cloning my plants near the end of the outdoor season so I can start a new crop indoors in my aerospring aeroponic units. I built my own aeroponic cloning machine from a rubbermaid container and have high hopes to continue to clone over and over again so I never have to start from seeds again.

here is my question for the cloning experts:

How solid/intact the DNA of the clones will be down the line??? In animals, the DNA tends to get brittle and break and repair as it is carried through a single generation....Since Im using the same DNA in the clone and it appears that the process can repeat itself over and over....that is if the plant DNA does not act like it does in animals and mimic the failures due to aging of the line

Have there been any studies on this or does anyone here have any ideas on this issue? Thanks for any help and if you want to see any of my pics or howto's on building your own cloning machine, check out my profile, the link to my website is in there


Technology Garden

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While I in no way consider myself an expert, I know enough about propagation to have some thoughts/questions/comments.....

1.You are using the term "cloning" pretty losely. I believe you are propagating "asexually" by cuttings. The chance of a branch sport or "deranged" genetic material has a much higher probability in what you are doing compared to say "tissue culture"...which is about the closest plant people have to "cloning".
2.In the shrub/tree/plant world, I have often heard propagators, who have been in the buisness for many years, comment on over a long period of time...a plant loses its vigor/root-ability and is more prone to propagation "issues". I have never seen work or research on this...but it is normally referanced to plants that are popular, produced in large numbers and have been around for many years (Weigela Java Red comes to mind). No consistancy to the comments...just a few species/cultivars here and there. But back to question/comment 1...the chance of changed genetic material is a lot higher in what you are doing.
3. It is hard, in my mind, to compare sexual-vs-asexual propagation and how it effects genetic material.....two different worlds and sciences.


    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 9:55PM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

Gardenweb has a Botany Forum. It doesn't get much traffic but post there and eventually someone may get around to giving you a fairly crisp, professional answer. The more details you put into you question the better the quality of the answer(s).

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 12:31PM
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taxonomist(7b VA)

First of all,I totally agree with Schmoo; you are asexually propagating primarily. The term cloning has been grossly misused.
I would strongly suggest that you utilise the library facilities of a local college and check out a recent publication relating to the mechanisms of DNA replication. It is a complex and often confusing subject, but is interesting beyond belief. As a final thought: DNA has been replicating itself for countless millions of years without any noticible change.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 7:57PM
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I agree with the prior posts and only wonder why with heirloom tomatoes which is what you mentioned, would you not propagate from seed which is the one feature of heirloom tomatoes allowing them to be available today. Al

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 2:17PM
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With 100% certainty, I give you an answer on the safety of plant 'cloning'

It is nothing like animal cloning. The short answer: It is just semantics, fegadaboutit.

Plant cloning is over 4000 years old. Animal cloning is about 15 years old. If there are clones that old that haven't broken down, they aren't going to start in your backyard.

Now the really interesting thing about sexual and asexual propagation in heirlooms is the results are identical!!! Both result in CLONES!!! How is that you may ask? Because most vegetables are self-pollinating, and every pair of chromosomes are identical in each cell. So the anther and ovary each get half of the matching set, but in this case it is like each gets one sock from a matching pair. When the genes recombine and form a seed, it is like taking the laundry out of the dryer and matching the socks back into their original pair. So the seeds of heirlooms are clones as well.

Unlike the sock analogy, chromosomes never get lost in the dryer.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 11:29PM
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