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Very important question about science - Tactical Ninja

Mar. 7th, 2014

12:05 pm - Very important question about science

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Last night I saved the seeds from a yellow roma tomato that I grew from a handful of heritage seeds given to me by bekitty a couple of years ago. It made me feel all survivally and self sufficient and stuff.

And then I started wondering about genetics. You see, if you keep the ewe lambs all born from the same ram, and only change your ram every few years, eventually your gene pool shrinks and you start getting unthriftiness. The solution is to cross in from an outside line.

So with my wee marties, if I only save the seeds from one tomato, will I not be shrinking my gene pool? And given that all the plants I grew are from the same lot of seeds, how do I keep my gene pool big enough? Will my next year's plants be sad little inbred things that produce grape-sized tomatoes?

Enquiring minds want to know!

Also, you should watch this:



It's a lot more in line with the style of adagio I'd like to do. That move at 1:12? We did it. Not that gracefully, but I didn't drop him on his head. We have a fairly low bar for success. *ahem*

Comments:

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From:richaarde
Date:March 6th, 2014 11:42 pm (UTC)
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It's probably enough to maybe buy one or two new plants few years, just to mix a few new genes into the gene pool. Try to use a different supplier than you used this year.
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From:tatjna
Date:March 7th, 2014 02:49 am (UTC)
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Righto, I'll see if I can find another yellow roma grower to swap with. ;-)
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:March 7th, 2014 12:58 am (UTC)
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Seeds get pollinated, so the cross over happens from random chance I think. Pollen being blown around by wind, and carried by insects. It's obviously more likely neighbouring plants will pollinate one another, but there's always a chance for pollen to go long distances in the atmosphere.
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From:tatjna
Date:March 7th, 2014 02:48 am (UTC)
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You mean I might get MUTANT TOMATOES?!? Awesome.
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From:tarakins42
Date:March 7th, 2014 01:01 am (UTC)
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That video was amazing!
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From:tatjna
Date:March 7th, 2014 02:47 am (UTC)
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I just keep watching it over and over! I can't wait till we can do all of it. I'd put us at about half now, but with nowhere near the grace those guys have.
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From:robby
Date:March 7th, 2014 02:28 am (UTC)
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Tomatoes are mostly self-pollinating, so saving seed from one plant is fine. I also agree with you about dogs and livestock. I have two collies and live in a rural area, and know my dogs have to be watched. One dog especially has a very strong prey drive.
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From:tatjna
Date:March 7th, 2014 02:31 am (UTC)
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Yeah, collies have been bred for hundreds of years to want to chase livestock - and to have the nous to do real damage if they happen to catch one. ;-/
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From:robby
Date:March 7th, 2014 02:39 am (UTC)
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Yes, herding is a variation of stalking behavior. I grow vegetables, and save seeds, and I wanted to bring up a technique for tomatoes. You actually have to let the seeds ferment a few days to be viable. I'm sure you can find directions somewhere on the interweb.
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From:tatjna
Date:March 7th, 2014 02:46 am (UTC)
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I have never heard of this fermenting business, and now I feel compelled to try it. Complete with control group of non-fermented seeds. For science! ;-D
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From:robby
Date:March 7th, 2014 02:50 am (UTC)
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You are simulating a tomato rotting on the ground. There is a seed coating that must be broken down via the fermentation process.
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From:pundigrion
Date:March 7th, 2014 02:33 am (UTC)
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I think it should still work out fine as long as you save seed from more than one of the offspring so you aren't narrowing your gene pool down so drastically with each generation. Tomatoes do tend to self-pollinate yes, but that doesn't mean the plant you saved seeds from didn't have some undesirable mutation itself. That way you get more choices.
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From:tatjna
Date:March 7th, 2014 02:50 am (UTC)
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I'm pretty sure the other toms I planted are hybrids so they won't cross-pollinate. But I have several of the yellow romas, so I'll grab some off another plant too. And see if anyone else is growing them so I can organise a seed swap.
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From:pundigrion
Date:March 7th, 2014 02:51 am (UTC)
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Seed swaps are always a win!
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From:jaelle_n_gilla
Date:March 7th, 2014 11:42 am (UTC)
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Depending of "how heirloom" they really are, you may end up with different plants and tomatoes anyway. Usually what we get today (even the ones sometimes called heirloom) are cross-breeds and they will after one or two generations produce a variety of the parent breeds and fruits.

If it's truly a heirloom variety that didn't change over the last centuries or so, they you probably want to keep your line as pure as you can. Tomatoes can self-fertilize and the cross-fertilization you get in from the neighbour's patch is probably enough to give you some sort of a gene pool.

Good luck with those! I wish I had the space and time to grow some garden fruit. I like the idea of really tasty tomatoes.
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From:plantgirl
Date:March 8th, 2014 02:12 am (UTC)
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There's a lot of information on saving seed at Seed Savers Exchange. If you browse the online catalog, they have info on page 71 about saving tomato seed (and info in other places about saving other types of seed).

Enjoy!

Edited at 2014-03-08 02:13 am (UTC)
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From:songindarkness
Date:March 8th, 2014 08:14 pm (UTC)
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From the little of what I know about genetics the tomato should contain seeds with slightly different genomes in each, as when they were pollinated there would have been genetic crossover. Maybe save the seeds from more plants or tomatoes? Each year grow more plants and there should be a fair amount of variation eventually. I have no idea how it works in practice though.

That video is awesome. Literally.
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