Are there "Identical Twin" plants?

George Hammond ghammond at
Sat Dec 16 14:32:41 EST 2000

Lee Hadden wrote:
> Just had a thought on this potato question.  Although I'm not set up to do it in
> our greenhouse, somebody out there probably has a hydroponics system in a growth
> chamber in which potato plants could be grown.  Would the potatoes they produced
> be identical or roughly identical in shape, color, texture, etc?  Would they be
> round instead of oblong?  Would the eyes be in the same places?  Same starch
> content?
> Just a thought since I've never seen it done and wondered if it might come close
> to answering George's question experimentally.

George Hammond, M.S. Physics/Psychology
High School Road, Hyannis, Cape Cod MA
ghammond at

Dr. E. Lee Hadden
Professor of Biology
Department of Biology
Wingate University
Wingate, NC   28174
hadden at


  This is not, I think, a matter for experiment.. rather, it
is an answerable theoretical question.  I have tried to
clarify the theoretical question below... perhaps i have
made it clear enough so that someone can anwer it.

> > 1.  Is this "theoretically" possible?
        [i.e. to plant a lare number of cloned plants]

[Prof. Haddon]
> > Not just theoretically , but practically,  when the seed potatoes are
> > identical 

> for instance in the potato example, one plant shades its
> neighbor more than it is shaded, or insects chow down on one plant more
> than another, one plant has a rock under it and its roots are impeded,
> another grows near the favorite defecation site of a mouse family, or
> competition for nutrients which would be at best, slightly varied in
> different parts of the field, etc., etc...................

> Even among all these millions of potato twins, the shape, and size of the
> new potatoes, damage by herbivores, etc., will not be absolutely
> identical. 

> Organisms
> have to live in one place or another and even small differences in their
> environments can affect gene expression and resultant growth and
> performance.


  We are in total agreement on the facts as stated above,
and we may SUMMARIZE these facts as follows:

1. It is possible to plant many fields of "cloned" (genetically
   identical) potatoes.

2. Nevertheless, because of variance in environmental
   factors, (sun, rain, fertilizer) there will still be
   a variance in the size of the potatoes.


For a large population of "cloned-identical" potatoes,
planted in large numbers, year after year in many 
different locales and conditions:

QUESTION #1:  Can we determine a MEAN and a STANDARD DEVIATION
              in adult size for this huge cloned-identical

QUESTION #2:  Will this indicate that there is something we
              can identify as the (genetically-predetermined)
              "Theoretically Full Grown Potato"?

QUESTION #3  Can we ESTIMATE the size of this
             "Theoretical Full Grown Potato" by assuming
             That it must lie somewhere near the high
             end of the experimentally obtained
             normal-curve of distribution experimentally
             obtained from the these actual real Potatoes?
             In other words, we are assuming that all
             Potatoes less than this experimental maximum
             must be  "less than full grown", for one
             environmental reason or another.

QUESTION #4  In other words, what I'm driving at is this:
             for this particular pure genetic strain, is
             there something we can identify as the "God Potato"
             which is defined as the (rare) "full grown" specimen
             of this particular genetic strain?

Finally, let me say that you probably will not catch the drift
of this question the first time round, since I am a theoretical
Physicist and not a Biologist... but I am CONVINCED that you
probably know the answer to this simple question I am trying to
ask nevertheless.

George Hammond

George Hammond, M.S. Physics
Email:    ghammond at


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