Cloned plants

David W. Kramer kramer.8 at
Fri Oct 27 08:17:33 EST 2000

Have you considered creating a display that will create itself?  Begin with
a single parent plant (consider geranium, chrysanthemum, Coleus) which you
could grow for several weeks in a strategic location.  Announce that this
plant is going to be cloned by children on [date].  At the cloning workshop
you can show students how to make cuttings from the parent.  Don't totally
mutilate the parent plant and don't throw it away; it will recover and
become part of your display.

All of the plants grown from cuttings will be genetically identical to the
parent plant and to one another.  They are clones.  Allow the clones to
form roots in full view of museum visitors (root them in clear plastic
tumblers which can be nested into a black box to keep the soil dark but can
be lifted out of the box for periodic observation of root growth through
the clear sides of the tumblers).  You could even use some of the cuttings
to conduct an experiment testing whether those treated with Rootone (or any
other commercially available rooting hormone) will produce more roots or
produce roots faster than untreated cuttings.

When the cuttings have rooted, transplant them to larger pots with good
soil and mineral nutrients (fertilizer).  The children who made the
cuttings or a new group of children could do this in another workshop...
and let them work in the museum while visitors watch.  Since all of the
plants are clones, you can now grow some of them under various
environmental conditions to see how the environment affects the expression
of the genome.  For example, some can be grown under ample light and some
under dim light.  You could also experiment with day length (more hours of
light per day or fewer hours of light).  Some could be watered adequately,
some watered excessively, and some kept very dry.

All the while, the parent plant is still alive and the clones grown under
these various conditions can be compared to the parent and also to clones
that have been grown under optimal conditions as controls.  This could be a
wonderful exhibition showing:  1) What's a clone?, 2) How can you create a
clone?, 3) What is the role of hormones in plant growth and development?,
4) How are clones important in the horticulture industry?, 5) Can animal
clones be created as easily as plant clones?  6) What are the relative
impacts of genome and environment on plant phenotype?

This display might spawn other displays about 1) genetically modified
organisms (techniques, results, and impact), 2) the history, technique, and
results of traditional plant breeding, 3) plant growth and development (and
compare it to animal growth and development), 4) ways that humans impact
the environment (allowing animals to overgraze, soil disturbance,
desertification, salt along highways, destruction of wetlands, etc.) so
that some plants can't grow there any longer and perhaps other plants
(weeds) can, ETC.

And don't forget to seek assistance (monetary, materials, expertise) from
local garden centers and nurseries, florists, botanical gardens, colleges
and universities, libraries, teachers and professors (including retirees),

Good luck!

Dave Kramer

>I am thginking of developing an exhibit in a sciecne museum to
>illustrate how the environment effects phenotype despite a constant
>genome. I'd like to exhibit a number of cloned plants under the same
>environmental conditions and illustrate how plants with the sdame genome
>will have different physical characteristics.
>Must I start with cells or are their plants that are clones that I can
>take parts of and still grow the clone? Any and all help apreciated.
>Respond top list and/or mweiss at
>Martin Weiss, PhD
>Director of Sciemce
>New York Hall of Science

David W. Kramer, Chair
Education Committee
Botanical Society of America

Asst. Prof. of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology
Ohio State University at Mansfield
1680 University Drive
Mansfield, OH  44906-1547
Phone:  (419) 755-4344      FAX:  (419) 755-4367
e-mail:  kramer.8 at


More information about the Plant-ed mailing list