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AN EARLY WORK WITH MENDEL'S LAW

During the winter of 1893-94, while working in the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station greenhouse, I made about thirty crosses of tomatoes of various kinds; among these crosses was one of the 'Dwarf Champion' X 'Potato Leaf' which I afterwards for no apparent reason ran out into the second generation. When in F2 it showed very plainly segregation of units and gave me a plant of the 'Dwarf Potato Leaf'. This peculiar stature and form of leaf was new in tomatoes and the plant was sold to W. Atlee Burpee & Company and introduced in 1899 under the name of 'Fordhook Fancy'. This tomato was strictly homozygote. Although I have raised plants by the thousands I have never seen the least sign of sporting or running back, As far as I know, this was one of the first dwarfs of the tomato to be named aside from the 'Dwarf Champion'; but there have been added quite a number since.

So plainly did this cross show where segregation takes place that I became convinced that there must be some law governing the case. In 1896, while living in Columbus, Ohio, I got hold of a new type of tomato which at the present time would probably be called a "mutant;" this tomato was introduced in 1897 by the Livingston Seed Company, under the name of 'Honor Bright'. This tomato differs from any other kind in a peculiar yellowing of both fruit and foliage. At the present time this form of tomato has become fairly well known as there are several forms of it, all of which I think I have had the privilege of originating from the first original one. In 1897, I crossed this new "mutant;" the 'Honor Bright' with another new one, the 'Fordhook Fancy'. In pondering over the work that I had done in making the 'Fordhook Fancy', one day the idea suddenly came to me that the combinations that go to make up the new tomatoes I wanted would be found only in the second generation, and in the first generation I would have something different from what I had used in making the cross. The cross that I had made succeeded, so, by gathering as much seed as I could the following year, I would probably find what I looked for.

The next season I planted enough seed to produce several thousand plants. What might be the total number of kinds that were produced I do not know. The practical plant breeder is interested only in the new and useful kind that may be obtained, and these I had figured out on paper before ever the fruit commenced to ripen, and when "round-up" came in the fall, I had six out of a possible seven. Had I not had a fairly clear idea of the law which is now called Mendel's law, I do not think I could have obtained these results. These new tomatoes were sold to the Livingston Seed Company and introduced in 1901.*  Tabulating the work in form of a diagram we have:

Just which of these tomatoes were homozygote I do not know although we raised "No. 7" for several years and it has proven quite true to type. The fact that with help of Mendel's law one can get a new plant that will not vary, I believe to be an important one. The 'Resplendent' tomato, introduced by John Lewis Childs in 1912, is a Dwarf Potato Leaf sort of the 'Honor Bright' type, the fruit being of the Ponderosa-like shape and size. The scientific point of interest in regard to it is that it is a segregation − occurring in the F2 cross. As far as I can remember, I had no plants of 'Honor Bright' growing on my place for six years before the 'Resplendent' came to light. Tomatoes while not absolutely self-fertilizing, cross-fertilize so seldom that I have never seen a natural cross even when different varieties were grown in the same field. I fail to see why a mutant cannot arise independently a second time, although in this case the fact that there were four plants found that carried the characters of the 'Resplendent' is against it being called a mutant.

− E. C. Green of Medina, Ohio

Source: American Breeder's Magazine, 1912, P. 145-147


* - As, E. C. Green notes, the six "varieties" that he sold to the Livingston Seed Company were only F2 cross'.  They prove to be unstable hybrids and Livingston dropped them shortly after they were released.


 

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