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Old June 14, 2009   #1
tjg911
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Default hybrid seeds

other than sun gold i don't grow hybrid tomatoes because there are just too many great tomatoes i have found and yet to be found by me that are op. that said i'm curious about hybrid seeds.

we know that hybrid tomato seeds will not reliability produce the same hybrid tomato they came from. but i suspect there is 1 or 2 generations that do. since i don't understand genetics, please speak to a lay person.

so we take tomatoes a and b (i have read there may be several parents involved in a hybrid not just 2 parents) and produce tomato seeds for sale to the public. so when you cross tomato a flowers with tomato b pollen you grow tomatoes and let's call the seeds in those tomatoes generation I.

it seems that they have to grow generation I seeds to ensure that the tomato is what they want, if i buy sun gold or jet star i do not want sweet 100 or big mama. so they grow generation I, it's what they want and then they harvest the seeds so that is generation II. we buy generation II and grow our hybrid tomatoes.

so there seems to me, if i am correct in my assumptions, that a hybrid is true to type for 1 or 2 generations and i'm guessing that after that they become less stable and start to revert to whatever their parents were.

am i correct or way off base?

if i am wrong then how in the world do they know the hybrid seeds they are selling are what they say they are? and if hybrids are not true to type then how do they produce seeds without growing them to be certain they are what they expect?

thanks,

tom
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Old June 14, 2009   #2
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Hi, Tom - Your words, then some comments.

"we know that hybrid tomato seeds will not reliability produce the same hybrid tomato they came from. but i suspect there is 1 or 2 generations that do. since i don't understand genetics, please speak to a lay person."

Seed saved from hybrids may or may not look like the parent, and may or may not in 1 or 2...or even 5 or more generations. It depends upon the "wideness" and complexity of the cross (crossing two very similar or two very different tomatoes).

"so we take tomatoes a and b (i have read there may be several parents involved in a hybrid not just 2 parents) and produce tomato seeds for sale to the public. so when you cross tomato a flowers with tomato b pollen you grow tomatoes and let's call the seeds in those tomatoes generation I.

it seems that they have to grow generation I seeds to ensure that the tomato is what they want, if i buy sun gold or jet star i do not want sweet 100 or big mama. so they grow generation I, it's what they want and then they harvest the seeds so that is generation II. we buy generation II and grow our hybrid tomatoes."

When they do the crosses and the tomatoes develop, it is the seeds from those tomatoes that are sold as the hybrid. If you save seeds from those, it is the F2 generation and you can get all sorts of variations. They may do a growout now and then as a quality control step, but it is those seeds from the actual pollination/developed fruit that are the hybrid.

"so there seems to me, if i am correct in my assumptions, that a hybrid is true to type for 1 or 2 generations and i'm guessing that after that they become less stable and start to revert to whatever their parents were.

am i correct or way off base?

if i am wrong then how in the world do they know the hybrid seeds they are selling are what they say they are? and if hybrids are not true to type then how do they produce seeds without growing them to be certain they are what they expect?"

It takes a long time to stabilize on something you want, as we are demonstrating in the Dwarf project. Patrina, Vince, Ray and Bruce have all created the hybrids. They make the crosses and we in the project grow out seeds from the tomatoes that develop from the cross. We save seeds and then get lots of variation in the F2 generation. We pick out an F2 we like, save seeds from it, and grow out as many as we can, because there continues to be lots of variation. It can take up to 5, 6, 7 generations or more to create a stable new variety - again, depending upon how different the parents were in the first place. Plus, there are quite a few genes responsible for any particular tomato variety - associated with shape, size, skin color, flesh color, flavor, leaf shape, plant type, etc. Certain characteristics are faster to stabilize than others. In the dwarf project, the saved seed from the hybrid produced 25% dwarf plants. But when you grow out those dwarfs, saved seed provides 100% dwarfs from there on (because dwarf is a recessive trait - they tend to be easier to nail down).

Hope that helps! But it does explain the relatively high cost of hybrid seed - you are getting the seed directly from the fruit from the crosses.
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Old June 14, 2009   #3
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I guess what I am unclear on is does the hybridizer stablize the variety before it goes on the market; if so does that mean they can use seeds from the fruits (I am talking tomatoes) to sell next year? If not then does that mean they cross the original parent generation every year to get seeds for the desired variety. I admit I am probably missing the obvious.
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Old June 14, 2009   #4
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A hybrid produces what it does. If you cross two stable non-hybrids, the seeds in the fruit that develop are all the same and produce the hybrid variety. So Patrina crossed Golden Dwarf Champion with Green Giant and got the F1 she named Sneezy. All of the seeds in the fruit that she harvested that was the result of the cross produce the hybrid, which was a medium sized yellow tomato. Any time she makes that cross and a fruit develops, the seeds in the fruit are Sneezy, the hybrid. So what a hybridizer does is to make lots of crosses, save seeds from the developed fruit, grow it out and if it is excellent, gives it a name. The cross is repeated and the seeds from the ripe fruit saved and sent out as the hybrid seed. So, yes, to keep a hybrid on the market, the parent plants must be maintained and grown each time that the hybrid seed is needed.
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Old June 14, 2009   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjg911 View Post
other than sun gold i don't grow hybrid tomatoes because there are just too many great tomatoes i have found and yet to be found by me that are op. that said i'm curious about hybrid seeds.

we know that hybrid tomato seeds will not reliability produce the same hybrid tomato they came from. but i suspect there is 1 or 2 generations that do. since i don't understand genetics, please speak to a lay person.

so we take tomatoes a and b (i have read there may be several parents involved in a hybrid not just 2 parents) and produce tomato seeds for sale to the public. so when you cross tomato a flowers with tomato b pollen you grow tomatoes and let's call the seeds in those tomatoes generation I.

it seems that they have to grow generation I seeds to ensure that the tomato is what they want, if i buy sun gold or jet star i do not want sweet 100 or big mama. so they grow generation I, it's what they want and then they harvest the seeds so that is generation II. we buy generation II and grow our hybrid tomatoes.
Sorry, this is not correct.

If I grow Tomato Variety A and Tomato Variety B, and transfer the pollen from a flower on Variety A to a flower on Variety B, then the resulting tomato seeds inside the tomato that develops will be an F1 (1st filial generation) hybrid of A + B.

I can process those A+B seeds, dry them, package them, and sell them to people as an F1 hybrid. Every year, as long as A and B don't change, I will get the exact same F1 result.

Now, if you as the consumer grow your Jet Star or Sweet Quartz F1 seeds and then decide to save seeds out of the resulting fruit, well that's the 2nd filial generation or F2 seeds.

This is where things get interesting. Now, you are going to get a genetic jumble, a mixture of the traits of the two original A and B parents. No two plants will be identical. You'll get different fruit sizes and shapes, colors, plant types, different foliage types, etc. Some plants will be healthier than others. Some will have good tasting tomatoes, some awful. And few will be 100% identical to the F1 (A+B) hybrid. Some folks say you can get about 95% of the way there depending on the parents.


The entire post below has been proven to NOT be true:
You asked about Sun Gold. The reason I kept it until the end is because it is not a simple A + B hybrid. With Jet Star, every year they cross two simple parents -- Variety A and Variety B which are both stable (open-pollinated). Sun Gold is not like that. To discuss this further will involve some guesswork as seed companies will not tell us their secrets otherwise we could just grow it ourselves.

First, we know that somewhere in Sun Gold's past, there is L pimpinellifolium which is the wild currant species of tomato. We know this because it's the only way to get those flat, ladder-like trusses of cherry tomatoes. Also, the foliage of the Sun Gold plants has an unusual aroma which is common to L.pimp.

Second, when folks have tried to grow Sun Gold F2, they have gotten HUGE variations. Red and orange tomatoes of all shapes and sizes, flavors, etc. What this tells us is that it is likely that Sun Gold has 4 or more parents.

Now wait a minute how does a tomato have more than 2 parents?

The answer is that Sun Gold seeds probably take 2 years to produce. Let's say this year I grow Sungold Parents A, B, C, and D. I have folks out there hand-pollinating A to B, and C to D. So now I've got A+B and C+D. Two hybrids. Next year I will grow those two hybrids and have workers hand-pollinate AB hybrid with CD hybrid and I get F1 seeds which are essentially ABCD. Those seeds which are a hybrid of two hybrids are then sold as Sun Gold F1.

As you can imagine, it is not only expensive and time-consuming to grow seeds year-after-year for varieties with more complicated parentage than A + B, but it's also expensive and time-consuming to develop them. You develop a variety and you have to wait 3 years to taste it.
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Old June 14, 2009   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kygreg View Post
I guess what I am unclear on is does the hybridizer stablize the variety before it goes on the market;
If it were stable, there would be no reason for consumers to buy seeds.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kygreg View Post
Des that mean they cross the original parent generation every year to get seeds for the desired variety.
It's amazing what you can do when you have enough third world labor.
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Old June 14, 2009   #7
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thanks Feldon and nctomatoman; I know how hybrids are produced and can even complete the Punnett Square for single or double traits; being the skeptic I am just thought the big companies would not go to the expense of crossing every year or every year they choose to grow certian seeds. Must be a lot of labor going into Big Boy, Better Boy, Early Girl etc.

As an aside, has anyone tried the so called enhanced hybrids? If so, what is your opinion?
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Old June 14, 2009   #8
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I wouldn't put it past seed companies to have a few 'hybrids' which are just OP and they get to charge 10 cents a seed in packets...

I have not heard of enhanced hybrids.
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Old June 15, 2009   #9
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thanks craig that helps me to understand this.

feldon i selected sun gold, jet star and the other 2 just as examples of hybrids i could think of off the top of my head cuz i'm not familiar with hybrid names since i don't grow them. your explanation is very interesting and i like the a+b c+d then abcd example, this made it clear to understand. like i said genetics is a mystery to me!

a few years back there was a link here that showed how the seed companies produce hybrid seeds. it was not as clear to me as craig and feldon explained it. however, kygreg is correct about a lot of labor and feldon about 3rd world.

the pictures were shot in mexico or somewhere in central or south america. there were plastic tubs about 20-25 gallon sized filled with seeds. i gathered from reading at this site that this was a very time consuming process and couldn't be done economically other than in a 3rd world country due to cheap labor due to the extensive time to perform the process. i think the hand pollinating was a very involved process that only certain laborers were qualified to do. it was interesting but did not explain it like craig and feldon have.

tom
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Old June 15, 2009   #10
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Thanks, Tom (and well done, Morgan). In a way, the hybrid seed thing is pretty impressive to me...I am all thumbs when trying to create a tomato hybrid myself! (Patrina convinced me it is not my technique so much as the humidity down here which makes extracting the pollen difficult). Also, co-running the dwarf project has been very educational for me in understanding the complexities of generations and how traits are expressed.

So I can see paying more for hybrid seeds (kind of, though aside from Sungold, I really don't buy them any more!) - but the real head scratcher are those ebay type web sites that offer "5 organically grown hand selected seeds" of a variety that is described as extremely rare (but is not, in fact) for 4 or 5 dollars!
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Old June 15, 2009   #11
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A couple of things.

"The answer is that Sun Gold seeds probably take 2 years to produce. Let's say this year I grow Sungold Parents A, B, C, and D. I have folks out there hand-pollinating A to B, and C to D. So now I've got A+B and C+D. Two hybrids. Next year I will grow those two hybrids and have workers hand-pollinate AB hybrid with CD hybrid and I get F1 seeds which are essentially ABCD. Those seeds which are a hybrid of two hybrids are then sold as Sun Gold F1."

I don't think that would work. When you cross 2 hybrids, with each being 100% heterozygotous as they would be in the description given above, you will not get 100% identical genetics in the F1 seed. Therefore, even in complex hybrids, the parents must be homozygotous true breeding lines, that is they must be open pollinated to yield an F1 cross that expresses 100% identical genetics in all the seeds.

"Now, if you as the consumer grow your Jet Star or Sweet Quartz F1 seeds and then decide to save seeds out of the resulting fruit, well that's the 2nd filial generation or F2 seeds. This is where things get interesting. Now, you are going to get a genetic jumble, a mixture of the traits of the two original A and B parents. No two plants will be identical. You'll get different fruit sizes and shapes, colors, plant types, different foliage types, etc. Some plants will be healthier than others. Some will have good tasting tomatoes, some awful. And few will be 100% identical to the F1 (A+B) hybrid. Some folks say you can get about 95% of the way there depending on the parents."

If both parents are 100% homozygotous true breeding lines, then the F1 will be 100% heterozygotous and the F2 will be 50/50 heterozygotous/homozygotous. So, I don't think it's possible to get "95% of the way there" except in appearance, and then, as Feldon points out, "depending on the parents," ie: only if the 2 parents are nearly identical to begin with. For example, a tomato like Plum Regal has two nearly identical parents with the significant differences being in the degree of elongation of the fruit and one or two disease resistances. Therefore, with hybrids where both parents have characteristics that are nearly identical with regard to fruit size, fruit color, leaf form and all the other dominant traits,the F2 fruit and leaf form may look "95% identical" but the genetics still will be 50/50, and it will take several generations thereafter to get 95% stable (identical).
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Old June 15, 2009   #12
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Craig writes, "those ebay type web sites that offer "5 organically grown hand selected seeds"
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I don't know why, but as I was reading this, my thoughts went automatically to that Amish Seed company that sells "hand selected" seeds.

I must be EVIL.


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Old June 15, 2009   #13
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I 'hand select' seeds and yet managed to get thousands of Black Cherry seeds out of a few fruit. I didn't realize I was so efficient.
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Old June 15, 2009   #14
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Here is a link to enhanced hybrids; among others is mentions a variety called Fabulous which I am growing this year.

Flavor Enhanced New Hybrids
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Old June 15, 2009   #15
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With a name like "Fabulous", it is a perfect set up to disappoint! Goes well with "Phenomenal" (which it isn't), "Fantastic" (some thought it was, I guess!), "Super Fantastic" (really?!)....in the late 1800s they were happy enough with "Beauty" and "Favorite"!

Big Boy...Better Boy...Ultra Boy....Big Girl...Better Girl....Ultra Girl......
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