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Comments on Journal Article

 I am urged to comment on a recent article written in the Hosta Journal
 Vol.30.1 by Associate Professor Ben Zonneveld in which he tries to
 develop a rationale for his theory for the causes for sports. While the
 causes for sports might normally interest only other Geneticists,  I
find the
 article so faulty that a response seems appropriate to correct some
 He raises questions...Are they really identical or only similar? Should
 they have different names if they are only similar? If they are
 identical, could they have a single name? He hopes to answer these
 questions by focusing on justification of names by discussing his
 theory  that there are three causes for hosta sports, i.e. (1) mitotic
 recombination, (2) chimeral rearrangement and (3) mutations. He states
 that "for our purposes we will treat mitotic recombination and
 mutations as processes that mainly take place in the DNA of nucleus and
 not in the DNA present in the other organelles of the cell" , (the
 plastids, for example).
 The faults I find in the article is that it is self-serving, it is
 biased, it is incomplete and it is in error in many repects. There is
 literary review to discuss the work and views of other workers in this
 field. It does not discuss the histological basis for chimeras, the
 "tunica-corpus" organization of cell layers in the meristem( after
 Schmidt 1924), nor the identification of the two-three layer apices
 common in monocots according to Stewart and Dermen (1979). He ignores
 need for discussing "apical initials" within each apical layer of the
 meristem. He does not discuss the fact that when cells from an inner
 layer (L2 , for example) which take over the position of  cells from
 outer layer, "displacement" occurs, while "replacement"  occurs when a
 periclinal division of a cell occurs (parallel to the perimeter)
 allowing for layer switching (per Stewart and Dermen 1970).
 He does not mention the work of Dr. Michael Marcotrigiano, world
 authority on chimeras and  Associate Professor of the Dept. of Plant
 Science, Univ. of Mass., Amherst, who explains how plastid mutations
 leads to variegation because of the growth and distribution of
 heteroplastidic cells. Marcotrigiano  states that "the most common
 of chimeral variegation is spontaneous  mutation in the pathway of
 chlorophyll synthesis or plastid morphology. These mutations are
 generally chloroplast mutations rather than nuclear mutations".
 Marcotrigiano then explains the genetic rationale for these
 Ben does not discuss the distribution and sorting out of mutated
 plastids  in cells, as described by Vaughn in Hosta Bulletins 11 and 13
 in the early 1980's. Nor does he discuss plastid mutations that often
 take place during various stages of embryogenesis according to
 Thus, the background of cytoplasmic and nuclear genetic factors are not
 covered to explain their role in chimeras. His theory is contrary to
 views of  classical research workers in this field (Schmidt,
 Stewart and Dermen, Tilney-Bassett, Vaughn and Marcotrigiano). So, who
 do you think I prefer to believe?
 The author states "that for our purposes, we will not consider DNA
 changes in the organelles of cells(the plastids). This statement seems
 suspect and inappropriate in a scientific discussion. Is it not the
 purpose of a scientific inquiry  to look at all causes of phenomena
 under study? If the purpose is to consider only the author's views and
 theories, is not the discussion slanted, biased and incomplete at the
 outset?. Why has not Ben reviewed the scientific literature? Why has he
 not mentioned Vaughn's work on plastid mutations and cytoplasmic
 inheritance? Perhaps he has not studied the background adequately and
 does not know about it?
 If Ben does not wish to discuss plastid mutations because he considers
 them insignificant, where is his proof that they are insignificant.
 Marcotrigiano thinks they are very significant. A true scientist does
 not hide from the truth or avoid the truth. He tells what others have
 done and tries to build upon their work. A true scientist is precise in
 the use of terms, his discriptions, his facts and the accuracy of his
 statements. When he makes mistakes, he admits them and corrects them as
 soon as possible.
 If the purpose of Ben's article was to inform  readers of the
 scientific facts by use of his theory, I must say I find his arguments
 incomplete, in error on several occasions, biased and non-convincing.
 It makes the  assumptions that all chimeral rearrangement (tissue
 transfers) are identical, which they are not. The article is not based
 on adequate knowledge of hostas. For example , Ben claims on page 58
 that H.'June' and H. 'Paradise Joyce' look alike at first but they will
 look different later because one is viridescent and the other is
 albescent. After emerging in my garden, H.'June' has a yellow center
and dark
 green edge (color code 14,2) while H. 'Paradise Joyce' has a green
 center and dark green edge on May 22  (color code 4,2 on the color
 My observation is that non-sexual propagation is not the same as
 propagation from seed, contrary to Ben's text. Has he redefined terms
 and not discussed it with us?...And there are 5 green vegetative sports
 H. 'Halcyon', not four. These five were published in January 1997 and
 included H. 'Grundspect' but should not have included H.'Kryptonite'
 which has been corrected to show that it is a sport of H. 'Blue
 Wedgwood'. And they are most likely the same plant derived from tc but
 named by five different people.
 Mistakes, if not corrected,  destroy the credibility of a researcher.
 Ben claims to have only 60 different hostas in his small garden with
 only 3 years of experience. Perhaps he needs more time and hands-on
 experience before establishing new theories on sports and writing
 lengthy scientific discussion full of errors and omissions.
 I wonder who reviewed Ben's article for accuracy? Was there a peer
 review committee as there was for "Those Blasted Plastids"? If this
 article with its weak, incomplete theories is published and read by
 hosta gardening readers who accept it as gospel, we are doing a
 disservice to those who may want to learn the truth about hosta sports.
 Professor Zonneveld is being allowed to teach, write about and
 bad science. Who is promoting and encouraging Ben to write 10 pages of
 bad science in one issue of the Hosta Journal? Where is our sense of
 proportionality? I am for science but not for bad science. I suggest
 that in the future that a complex phenomenon such as chimeras can not
 adequately explained in one simplistic theory.
 Jim Hawes

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