[NAFEX] Tree clones from different nurseries grow differently

Michael Dossett phainopepla at yahoo.com
Sat Aug 27 17:30:45 EDT 2011

Richard,  what you say is true, microenvironment can play a huge difference that is sometimes overlooked, but I think Alex really hit it spot on.  While plants cannot be "trained" as you say, the environment plays a HUGE role in gene expression and regulation, and can create different phenotypes because of environment even when exactly the same genes are present.  Science is only just beginning to uncover this and understand it.  There was an excellent episode of NOVA a year or so ago called "ghost in your genes" that talks about epigenetics and gave some amazing examples of how environmental influence of gene expression affects not only the individual acted upon by a particular environment but can also lead to long lasting heritable changes that can be observed in the offspring even generations later.  Here is a link to the page about this episode on the PBS website.  If you click on the link "A tale of two mice" there is an good example about
 how two genetically identical twin mice not only look very different but how epigentic changes affect differences in there health.
There are also clips from the episode on YouTube, but really anyone with an interest in this should order the video of the episode because it is really eye-opening to see how (an example from the show) going through a famine in child hood can affect the genetic propensity for obesity a couple of generations later.  This aspect of gene regulation really is the cutting edge of genetics research today.

Michael Dossett
Mission, British Columbia (zone 7)
phainopepla at yahoo.com

From: Richard L. Wagner <rewagner at centurytel.net>
To: North American Fruit Explorers <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Friday, August 26, 2011 12:14 PM
Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Tree clones from different nurseries grow differently

  Plants are not animals. They can not be trained to fetch, roll over, 
and sit on command. 

A more likely explanation is that the zones numbers are generalizations 
that do not take into account a multiplicity of variable growing 
conditions. Onset of first major freeze? Is it preceded by a natural 
hardening off cycle or does it just come, ZAP, out of the blue. How dry 
are the winters, this is in reference to my loss of persimmon trees 
last season. A friend 20 miles north at higher elevation didn't lose 
any trees but has zero crop this year. Do you have good snow cover? We 
are in relatively warm 6b-7a so I doubt that temperature by itself was 
the cause. We don't have any winter snow cover. It snows 2-3 times a 
season, usually 5-8 inches, and all melts in 2-3 days. Here our 
greatest problem is an early warm spring that causes trees to flush 
with new growth, buds, flowers and then, ZAP, a dramatic freeze that 
catches all the succulent new growth and sometimes causes major injury 
or death to the trees especially young ones. When I lived in eastern 
Oregon where it was a definite zone 5 we never had that problem with 
false springs. When it was cold it stayed cold, enough to keep the 
plants in dormancy, and when spring came it stayed. 

All men are not created equal and neither are all zones. 

  Quoting Alexander Brands :
> > Miller isn't the only one making a similar claim. I believe St. 
> > Lawrence does also. 
> >
> > Raising in a colder climate is not going to change the basic genetics. 
> > That requires changing the genetic combinations (genotype) generation
> > to generation combined with selection. 
> This is true
> > The one thing growing in a cold
> > climate does is to provide the stress that helps identify which clones
> > are most vulnerable. In the absence of genetic mutations, naturally a
> > very slow process, it can only weed out the weakest but not increase
> > the strongest. Where the plant is grown is not going to make a
> > difference
> This may not be true. In animals, including humans, there is good
> evidence that the behavior and environment of an individual has an
> effect on the phenotype, or characteristics of the offspring. For
> example, the eating behavior of a person can have an effect on their
> offspring's propensity for obesity, an effect independent of genetics. 
> Google "epigenetics". This is a relatively new field of study in
> biology, and it would not be surprising if more examples are found. 
> It's not much of a stretch to suppose a similar effect occurs in
> vegetatively propagated plants. 
> Alex
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