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Look-alike hostas


Ben:

I've been reading a copy of your article on look-alike hostas in the 
Hosta Journal and have a few questions.  Apparently, you claim to have 
an advanced degree in genetics.  What was your undergraduate degree(s) 
in and is you graduate degree in genetics the equivalent of a Ph.D. 
and what was your genetics research in?

I'm having some problems with trying to figure out just what it is you 
are trying to say sometimes.  I can't figure out if it is your command 
of English or if it is a problem with understanding genetics.  You 
attempt to make a claim that all look alike sports that are from 
chimera rearrangements should be give the same name, but you don't 
present a really convincing argument.  Not that I disagree with you, 
but how do you prove that two look-alike sports are the result of 
chimera rearrangements.  

You state that sports can be the result of chimera rearrangments, 
mitotic crossing over and mutations.  However, considering how 
frequent some hostas sport it's hard to see how any of these except 
chimera rearrangement can be significant, and even that has some 
problems.  The mutation rate is too low to account for many hosta 
sports and there is no evidence that hostas mutate at a higher rate 
then other plants.  Mitotic crossing over is a very rare occurance in 
plants.  Have you ever seen a photograph of a cell undergoing mitotic 
crossing over?  There are thousands of cells in a plant that are 
undergoing mitosis, most of which are not in any location to give rise 
to a shoot sport - for example, cells in root tips.  Given that a very 
rare event is spread over thousands of cells, it's hard to see how 
mitotic recombination can be all that important.

On page 57 you state: "A yellow hosta sporting to variegated or 
green...or a blue hosta sporting to green...are examples of mitotic 
recombination."  Can you prove this!  Have you conducted any gel 
electrophoreses or genetic studies to prove this using sports as 
stated above?  You make a very broad general statement but don't back 
it up with any evidence.

On page 58 you state: "Mutations can occure in different genes or in 
the same gene, but they will always occure at different sites."  I 
think I know what you are trying to say, but it sure is sloppy 
writing.  Then you say: "If a single gene is affected, it still might 
have anywhere between 0% and 99% of its original activity with all 
consequences."  I'm not going to comment on the poor grammar, but how 
did you arbitrarily decide that a mutated gene might have between 0 
and 99 percent activity?  A gene can mutate and still have 100% of its 
activity.  As a matter of fact, a gene can mutate and end up being 
even more active.  

Later on you state: "In an attempt to resolve the question of whether 
certain hostas coming from the same mother plant through nonsexual 
(seed) propagation are the same...."  What in the world is nonsexual 
seed propagation?

Then you state, apparently unequivocally: "Using my rule of thumb, it 
is possible now to determine whether plants are really identical or 
only similar without having even seen the plant."  Now, isn't this 
statement a bit over blown!  Now, I have two sports of Whirlwind that 
have dark green edges and light green centers.  Are you telling me 
these two plants are identical or similar?  Have you ever considered 
your rule of thumb may be full of holes because you haven't considered 
all the possibilities for the occurance of sports.  

You keep bring up all yellow sports of Frances Williams.  I agree with 
you that if all these sports are given different names that there 
could end up being a lot of confusion with hosta names, as if there 
isn't already enough confusion, epecially if they are due to chimera 
rearrangments.  What might be a better solution to some of these 
problems would be to call all yellow sports of Frances Williams Yellow 
Frances Williams followed by the name of the person who found it.  We 
don't have any problem with calling all the individuals of the same 
species with the same species name, even though they are all 
different.  Just a thought.

Joe Halinar

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