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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 
leave it.  

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?

Joe Halinar

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