Ben's latest article
I was under the impression that Ben Zonnneveld's latest articles in
the Hosta Journal were suppose to have been reviewed for scientific
accuracy and presentation. Clearly, the english and grammar have been
improved, but there are still a lot of shortcomings to the article
from the point of view of the presentation of the scientific data.
It's Ben's basic presentation style of saying here it is, take it or
First, Ben presents one very short paragraph on how the DNA was
measured using a flow cytometer. It's going to be difficult for
anyone who doesn't have a scientific, biological background to figure
out how a flow cytometer works or how it measures the DNA content.
Ben then states "...propidium iodide is added to color the DNA", but
he doesn't say anything about how specific propidium iodide is as a
stain. Is it a specific stain for DNA that only stains DNA or does it
stain the nucleus in general?
Then, without any explination Ben gives one of his famous Zonneveld
Numbers and states that Francee has about 25 picograms of DNA while
the white edge of Patriot has 50 piucograms? There is absolutely no
evidence presented to support these numbers. For all we know Ben may
well have made up these numbers. Flow cytometry is good at telling
the RELATIVE difference between different DNA levels within the same
genus, but the actual amount of DNA can only be inferred from some
extrapolated standard that may not actually apply to hostas.
Ben is claiming that Francee is a diploid, that there are two forms of
Patriot, a 4-2 cytochimera and a fully tetaploid form, and that
Minuteman is a tetraploid. Now, the conclusions MAY be correct, but
why not do the obvious and actually COUNT the chromosomes to verify
the results from the flow cytometer? It takes only about a half hour
to do a chromosome count from a root tip. Any good botantist can do
it if they have the equipment. Is Ben saying that Leiden University
doesn't have the equipment to do a simple root tip chromosome count,
or is it that Ben doesn't know how to do a simple root tip chromosome
Ben also states that he stained the pollen of tetraploid Patriot, but
he doesn't say anything about the size of the pollen in the supposely
tetraploid plant of Patriot. Doesn't Leiden University have an ocular
micrometer so that Ben could measure the pollen size of the tetraploid
Partiot and compare it to Minutemans and Francee? The pollen of
Minuteman and the tet form of Patriot should have larger pollen then
Francee that should be easy to measure. Ben doesn't give any
indication that the stained pollen of the tet form of patriot was any
bigger then Francee pollen, which would suggest that Patriot and
Minuteman are not tets or cytochimeras.
Ben says that one form of Patriot is a 4-2 cytochimera based on his
flow cytometery results. Well, where is the data on the size of the
stomata of the cytochimera Patriot compared to Francee to supposrt
this conclusion? Again, this would have taken less then a half hour
to do, IF Ben knew how to do it.
In this case Ben's conculsions may be correct, but the presentation is
poor and the collaborating evidence that could have easily backed up
the flow cytometer results is lacking.
Then there is the question of Francee and Minuteman reverting back and
forth in tissue culture. This shouldn't happen if Minuteman is really
a tetraploid, unless there is a diploid and tetraploid form of
In Ben's second article on hosta seed germination he states "Like all
monocotes, there is only a single cotyledon in Hosta." I'm glad to
hear that Ben is finally agreeing that hostas do have cotyledons!
Then he states "A second important difference is that with beans, the
reserve food is in the cotyledon while in monocotes like hosta, it is
in a seperate endosperm." He again sites Raven's Biology of Plants,
to conclude that "A good definition for a cotyledon is: a structure
that stores food in dicots, and absorbs food in monocots like Hosta"
and like he did on the Hosta-open robin, again doesn't provide any
pertinent information to back up this overly general claim that NO
other plant anatomists has made. I think I know where Ben is getting
himself confused. He is looking at bean cotyledons and ASSUMING that
all dicots have cotyledons like beans! In the drawings that are
presented in the article it appears that there are two cotyledons
present. I'm wondering, did Ben really look at hosta seeds or did he
germinate something else?
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