I’ve been perusing the textbook Modern Chemistry (2006 edition) again and I came across some interesting stuff that is related to the categories of topics I talk about on this blog. Most specifically the Farm News and Health stuff. When you make regular jams and jellies (not the fridge types) the table sugar, which is sucrose, you mix with the fruit and then heat breaks down into a mixture of equal parts of glucose (grape sugar) and fructose (fruit sugar). This new mixture then tastes sweeter than the table sugar you added! In other words, you can put less sugar than you thought and still have a nice and sweet jam or jelly to put on your toast in the morning. What happens is that the acid and heat combination breaks down sucrose into its two components — glucose and fructose. This is also probably the reason when you bake most fruit pies–say apple or peach — it seems sweeter than you thought it should. Personally I prefer a less sweet pie which means I tell my wife and daughters to go light on the sugar when baking fruit pies. Technically, this process is called hydrolysis.
Now I bet you are wondering what on earth does cloning have to do with anything here? Well, I also was reading the textbook’s chapter on DNA and RNA and I came to a section titled Cloning. The first sentence of the chapter goes “One meaning of the word cloning is the process of making an exact copy of an organism.” A good definition. Now comes the criticism. This criticism is based on the four author’s ignorance. This all reminds me of the saying about the definition of a specialist: “A true specialist is one who learns more and more about less and less until they know everything there is to know about nothing!”
The book’s section on cloning demonstrates this. Here are a couple of excerpts from this section that demonstrates this. “Cloning of plants may hold promise for increasing the yields of crops.” Also “By planting young (cocoa) trees that are clones of plants with desirable characteristics, farmers may be able to increase their cocoa producution.” Come on now! This sounds almost science fiction. But the problem is, is that people have been doing this for thousands of years! Some examples of plant clones: Red Pontiac potatoes, Delicious apple trees, most all garlic, Redhaven peach, Weeping Willow, Montmorency cherry, Concord Grape, Bartlett pear…actually I could name thousands of clones. We have one tree of the Court Pendu Platt apple. Apparently the first Court Pendu Platt apple was cloned by the Romans before Jesus’s birth. I also have some Calville Blanc D’Hiver apples which believed were first cloned in the 1500’s. By the way, Calville has more Vitamin C then an orange and it makes the very best fall pies. (Me thinks the od Gravenstein apple makes even better pies but it is an early fall apple in Michigan and doesn’t keep well.) You see, every named fruit tree is a clone (this cloning is done by grafting or budding) also every named potato is a clone. This is done by simply dropping the potato in the ground. As a general statement (which probably has some exceptions) I can state with moderate confidence, “All types of asexual reproduction results in a cloned organism.” Apparently, the four author’s of the textbook I refer to didn’t know this. By the way, despite this omission I really love the book and heartily recommend it. It is very well done!