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'Cloning' and ageing in plants

Monique Reed monique at bio.tamu.edu
Tue Jun 1 09:26:25 EST 1999

On the one hand, most plants seem to be able to be propagated from
cuttings more or less indefinitely.  For example, if you look at any of
the seedless grapes or oranges of one cultivar, or any named clonal
African violet or geranium, etc., they're all descendants of the one
original parent or a plant grown from a cutting of that parent, etc. 
There seems to be no loss of genetic information and little, if any,
"drift" away from the original plant.  This is the whole reason why you
can obtain and enforce a plant patent.

On the other hand, some information about age does appear to transfer,
at least in some species.  Example:  citrus plants can take years to
flower and fruit.  Almost all commercial citrus varieties are grown from
buds or cuttings.  It has been demonstrated that if the bud or cutting
comes from higher off the stock plant, it somehow thinks of itself as
"older" and will produce a little faster than material taken from low on
the stock plant.  (This is sort of backwards, since the top part of a
plant is newer than the bottom, but apparently the plant "figures" that
if it has gotten four feet off the ground already, it must be a certain

Monique Reed

J.Rowlands wrote:
> Hello all,
> An interesting conversation started between me and my partner over dinner
> last night.
> Recent reports say thats Dolly (the cloned sheep), seems to have
> 'inherited' shortened telomeres from its ageing mother.  What's the
> situation with plants grown from cuttings; do they also inherit information
> about their cells being older than the cutting's existence as a full plant?
> In other words, does taking a plant cutting reset the age counter, or not?
> Many thanks for any enlightenment you can provide!
> Cheers,
> --
> ------------
> J.Rowlands         oss004 at bangor.ac.uk

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