Gee Whiz Facts

John JackMurphy jmurphy at TFM.FMNH.ORG
Fri Apr 18 08:57:17 EST 1997

Installment 3:

>In a previous article, hrywnaya at (Yarek Hrywna) says:
>>Sorry.  The largest living organism is a clone of aspens--not Armillaria
>>Bulbosa as originally thought.
>                                *******
>Sorry, but a cluster of clones is not an individual, but rather a
>conglomeration of separately functioning entities with identical
>genetic makeup.

Aspen trees clone by suckering - roots from one tree stem sprout up new
tree stems.  The trees you see within an aspen clone are connected by their
roots, making the stand a genetic AND physiologically integrated unit.  A
terminology I like refers to genetically identical and integrated units as
"genets" and genetically identical but NOT physically connected units as
"ramets."  By this definition, as far as Science knows, Populus tremuloides
holds the record for the largest individual.  Sorry, mushroom lovers.  It
was nice while it lasted.  Still and all, that A. bulbosa clone is pretty
big and old.

By the way, I think the reference to which Yarek refers is as follows:
Rogstad, S. H., H. Nybom, and B. A. Schaal.  1991. The tetrapod "DNA
fingerprinting" M 13 repeat probe reveals genetic diversity and clonal
growth in quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides, Salicaceae).   Pl. Syst.
Evol. 175: 115-123.


John Murphy, Ph.D.
Dept. of Botany, The Field Museum
Roosevelt Road at Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL   60605-2496
(312) 922-9410 ext. 722
FAX:  (312) 427-2530

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