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Are there "Identical Twin" plants?

Janice M. Glime jmglime at mtu.edu
Sat Dec 16 13:40:29 EST 2000

  While I can agree that asexual reproduction can produce identical twins
in many plants to the same degree as in humans, I question how often they
are truly identical genetically, and I would question even further that
this is a genetically stable and stagnant population.  There are plants,
for example the moss Pleurozium schreberi, that are sterile in parts of
the world.  Yet I doubt that those populations in one area are genetically
identical to sterile populations in a distant area.  They respond
differently to photoperiod, drought, and probably other factors.  While
recombinations do not occur, somatic mutations do.  Since a new moss from
a leaf fragment, or a new potato from one potato "eye," could experience a
somatic mutation different from that on even another part of the same
plant, variation can exist.  I would not want to guess how much relative
to the variation caused by mixing sets of chromosomes, but certainly the
dandelion exhibits variation without any mixing with another individual,
and is quite successful with its strategy with no intentional help from
  Even a single human exhibits markedly different characters on the two
sides of the face.  I wonder, are these somatic mutations, environmental
differences, or I would guess, both.
 Janice M. Glime, Professor  
 Department of Biological Sciences
 Michigan Technological University
 Houghton, MI 49931-1295
 jmglime at mtu.edu
 FAX 906-487-3167 


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