looking at genetics

plantsman56July 9, 2014

The longer I grow peppers, the more I see how genetics are very important. When I am breeding my cycads, genetic purity is very important. Even when you are strict in your choice of parent plants, when you grow out just a single cone's worth of seeds, the resultant seedlings have an incredible genetic diversity that is obviously just by looking at them.
If you take the seeds from just one pepper and plant them out, you will see all kinds of different looking plants and they will produce different pod shapes. If you care about things like this, you normally will find the best looking plant that grows well and choose the one that has the best looking pods, or maybe the hottest pod, and breed that plant for next year's seeds. Sometimes you might want to do the same thing for multiple generations to make what you think is the perfect combination. I know this is what I have done with the reaper plants. The generic diversity of the original offers of reaper seeds, for many people, was unbelievably off the wall. Just by picking my plants with the best pods and breeding those together, I'm already getting very consistent pod shapes and heat levels.
But, after buying plants from multiple people, I find that the same type of pepper bought from different people can be very different. The first time I bought some peach bhut plants, the pod had a soapy after taste. If that was the only type I ever tried, I would stop growing those. Then, I got some seeds from a different person, and those plants produced luscious pods. I guess the bottom line on this is, most of us buy seeds or plants and just assume that what they get is what the peppers are supposed to be like. If there is a particular pepper you think you will like, I would suggest buying materials from at least three different people, especially if you want to do it for business. If anyone gets peppers that aren't quite perfect, don't give up on that type, check out what someone else might have in the same type. You never know what other people's genetics might be like. I know I have seen a big variety in Fataliis. Anyway, just a few thoughts on genetics. For me, the genetics I have for each type is a work in progress. I try to take the best of what I have and make it better, or more consistent each year.

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who sold you the peach bhuts with the luscious pods?

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 11:12AM
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Refining Chile's had the better tasting one. Their yellow Fataliis are better than average as well. The Douglahs that came from their plans are huge compared to the ones I was growing from another source.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 3:05PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

A recent poster here made the comment that genotype is not the same as phenotype. Not sure I understand this well at all, but it does seem to bear on the question of why some plants ostensibly with the same genes grow out so different. Can you comment?


    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 9:57PM
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Well, basically, what you are looking at is your phenotype, but there is a huge amount of genetic diversity hidden in that plant. Among the plants I grow, I have a large collection of Dyckias, which are xeric, terrestrial bromeliads. When you propagate a named variety, it must be from offset. It looks like I need to post twice on these pictures, so here should be the picture of the cultivar Snaggletooth.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 11:05PM
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Now, I self pollinated this plant about three years ago and this picture is a tray of some of the seedlings. If you can see good enough, there are red ones, silver ones, green ones, and everything in between. This is the diversity hiding in this one plant. Then, in another year, the flowers may vary as well, but these plants are normally sold for the look of the plant itself.
If you isolate your pepper plant and take the seeds from a couple of peppers and make about 100 seedlings you will see a great deal of variation. If you started with something like a yellow fatalii, you won't see that much variation in of shape and taste, but that pepper has been stable for who knows how long. Take a pepper that came from a first generation hybridization, you will see all kinds of variation in pod shape and possibly color, depending on what you were putting together. I would bet that if you took the best looking reapers and mixed them with primos, you wouldn't see a lot of variation with pod shape. But just think, there are genes for everything. All the plant characteristics, pod shape, but also taste, heat, and even what kind of heat. Immediate heat, time release heat, and length of heat. To get exactly what you want, you take the best plants and make another generation, where you take that best plant and self it again. Sooner or later, the variations will be less obvious, and that is how you make a stable hybrid.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 11:20PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Cool looking plants! I bet you have to handle them with tongs...

I can clearly see the different colors. But wouldn't a wild bromeliad tend to be stable? Are you suggesting that you could (not necessarily should) breed the color variation out by judicious selection?

Agree that PJ should have taken more time to stabilize the reaper as you suggest. Perhaps he also sends out seeds from poor phenotypes. (Did I use the word correctly?)

Interestingly, we're trying to do something similar here. Last year I planted a batch of "Peter pepper" seeds and got one plant that may well be a hybrid (named "St. Peter). Smooth pods, larger more prolific plant, and flesh that has the odor of rose petals when opened. I sent out a bunch of seeds and others are growing them. (Mama froze off this year.) Hopefully we can replicate those characteristics in the children.

FWIW, some seed propagators apparently do as you suggest. Especially, the many plants I've grown from seeds from scorpion_john and fusion_power (a commercial grower) are regularly healthy and true. In the hobbyist world, it may be that many growers don't have enough experience of what is "true" to be able to select, nor the variety of plants to notice that one is better than the other. They send on what they have.

From that point of view, one might be surprised that we do as well as we do. ;)


    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 1:36PM
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