barley breeding and peas

Kathleen Archer Kathleen.Archer at
Thu Dec 4 09:03:39 EST 2003

Dear Plant Ed Folks,
I read John Hewitson's posting with great interest, as I have run across
problem that I suspect could be due to plant breeding also.  In 1990 I 
bought 10 lbs of the old pea variety "Sparkle".  I used it to produce 
isolated chloroplasts for my work, and we also used it in some lab 
exercises for class.  Last year, I finally ran out and to my surprise, I 
could not find any seed company that carried "Sparkle" any more, and I
told it was no longer in production.  No worries I thought, and went out 
and bought 10 lbs of another variety.  Didn't work.  Could not get
near the intactness percentages that Sparkle had produced.  So I bought 
packets of many pea varieties and tried them all, and discovered that
percent intactness varied hugely from variety to variety.  To my dismay, 
none of them gave me what I would have considered acceptable chloroplast 

Recently someone suggested I try "Little Marvel", another old variety
Sparkle.  Wow - I got the best results I had seen in a year!   I don't
why this should be so, but I can't imagine that the differences come
the chloroplasts themselves.  Perhaps there are differences in the
environment that effect the chloroplasts's ability to survive the
process.  Anyway, I thought it would be interesting if I could track
down a 
pea breeder and see what they have been trying to breed out/breed in - 
maybe that would suggest an answer.

A little irony to end the story.  After my success with a small packet
Little Marvel peas, I looked for a wholesaler from whom I could purchase
big quantity at good price.  Finding one, I bought myself several
and when they arrived the box also contained this company's catalog
Seeds, International).  Flipping to the pea section, I found that they 
still offer "Sparkle"!

Kathleen Archer
Kathleen Archer
Dept. Biology
Trinity College
Hartford, CT 06106
Ph: (860)297-2226
kathleen.archer at


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