'Cloning' and ageing

Dennis G. dennis_goos at mindlink.net
Tue Jun 1 12:49:07 EST 1999

"J.Rowlands" <oss004 at bangor.ac.uk> wrote:

>Recent reports say thats Dolly (the cloned sheep), seems to have
>'inherited' shortened telomeres from its ageing mother.  What's the
>situation with plants grown from cuttings; do they also inherit information
>about their cells being older than the cutting's existence as a full plant?
>In other words, does taking a plant cutting reset the age counter, or not?

The cutting produces a plant with the characteristics of the stock plant . 'Age'
characteristics may be part of that. 
An easy experiment for most people in temperate climates with Hedera
helix(English Ivy)  available can readily try it out in 6-8 weeks.
 An  'aged' branch or stem of H. helix will have leaves with muted 'points';a
juvenile plant will have noticeably sharper points on the leaves. A cutting
rooted from the older plant will produce leaves with 'muted' points :a cutting
from the juvenile form will produce juvenile leaves. 

Variation in characteristics other than age may be carried foward through
cutting propagation as well. E.G.  a cutting from a lateral branch tip may
produce a plant that will not grow straight up whereas a cutting made from the
growing tip will produce a plant that grows straight up with a strong leader. 

The so-called 'juvenility' of stock used to make cuttings is also often
important in the rate of successful rooting but this type of juvenility refers
more to the proximity of the cutting material to the roots of the stock material
than to the age of the stock .

In commercial production of plants through cuttings, I have found a wide variety
of factors have influence over a wide variety of cultivars and that age can be
one of those factors.

As to the question of resetting the age counter, my guess is the answer is the
cutting cannot do so but that in a practical application this may be a positve


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