minimum population for eggplant/selfing species?

cousinfloydAugust 22, 2013

Is there any reason to worry about minimum population at all with self-pollinating plants like (as far as I understand) eggplant?

I have a couple eggplant varieties that I originally bought from two different sources I don't normally order from. I'd like not to place separate orders again, but I let my seed get old, and I only got one of each variety to germinate this year. I can isolate them and save seed, but is there any reason not to save seed from a single eggplant plant grown all by itself?

Fedco says simply, "Crossers require minimum populations to maintain vigor and avoid inbreeding depression," which seems to imply that minimum populations are of no concern with self-pollinators, but Southern Exposure says, "Crops that are mostly self-pollinating can be maintained with relatively few plants and better recover from population bottlenecks." That seems to imply that I could still have problems, perhaps especially with just one plant.

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    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 1:57PM
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I'm back to wondering about the same question as before. Any thoughts on the matter?

    Bookmark   January 10, 2015 at 9:19AM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

I'm going to say that you will be fine.

Inbreeding depression is a generational thing. Think of it like rolling dice, but each time, a number is removed. Your first roll, chances are you'll be okay, you might end up with a 5 and 6 or double sixes even. But, the more times you roll, the higher your chances are of getting snake eyes. that a *little bit* like inbreeding.

The first time someone in the family kisses their cousin, there's a good chance their kids will turn out perfectly normal. If they make a habit of it though, and each generation continues to kiss cousins, the chances of potentially dangerous (or maybe just odd) recessive genes increases.

With plants that are self fertile and self pollinating, there are biological mechanisms in place to help stave off this dilemma. Otherwise, there would be no self fertile plants (adaptation/evolution would have weeded them out eons ago). So, they can happily breed with themselves time after time and the ill effects will be much longer in the making. That doesn't mean they don't benefit from having a healthy population to cross with, but, if they don't, chances are high you wont find them much worse for the wear. While it may be minimal, there is still going to be *some* gene recombination and the offspring are not clones of the parent. Although, at some point, I would order more seeds to introduce some variation and maintain long term vigor, it's not, in my mind, a pressing issue that must be done this instant, just at the earliest convenience.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2015 at 12:54AM
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