Tim Eck
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 04:21:41 PST
"This brings to my mind a perplexing question. Dutch growers often retire
certain cultivars that cease to grow well once the clones acquire too many
viruses (King Alfred). Is it really possible that a single saffron clone
could go on for thousands of years without acquiring too many viruses, or
even just succumbing to old age? Perhaps old age IS why they don't flower
easily for everyone.
It would be interesting to see the genetics mapped of Crocus sativus from
different sources around the world."

I don't have any specific answers but it is important to realize that
viruses are an important part of evolution in that they allow for lateral
gene transfer (they have another name for it now).  What we see as viral
infections are mostly exogenous viruses that are not co-adapted to that
species.  In that context a clone could easily survive in its region of
origin without infection as long as the dispersion always radiated outward
from the origin.  And just as a hospital is the perfect breeding ground for
drug resistant pathogens, collectors and breeders are probably the best
proliferators of pernicious plant viruses.
Which reminds me, I recently bought "The Oldest Living Things in the World"
after seeing it reviewed in 'Science'.  Seems like a book of great interest
to this crowd.  If it's older than 2000 years, it's in the book.…

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