By John McCollum, Biotechnology Learning Center Supervisor
This is a great at-home science activity for your kids! Seeds often use the genetic material from two parent plants to grow into a plant with a new mix of traits different from the parent plants. Since farmers want their crops to consistently have the same types of traits (such as large size, good taste, fast growth, etc.) they try to grow certain crops like potatoes without using seeds. Instead, plants like potatoes are reproduced using a process called cloning.
When planting potatoes, you will cut a fully grown potato into pieces and use those little pieces to start your new plants. In cloning, there is only one parent plant and the genetic material stays the same, so the offspring produce the same traits as the parent.
Be sure to prepare your potatoes the day before you want to plant them, as you need to have the seedlings dry overnight. Any potatoes could be used, but special “seed potatoes” are preferable to grocery store-bought eating potatoes if you actually want to grow plants for food. Store-bought potatoes will be more likely to have problems with disease.
Mulch and/or potting soil
- Take a potato and locate the "eyes." Use the knife to cut the potato into 1-inch cubes, each cube having one eye.
- Let the potato cubes dry overnight.
- Put the cubes on top of well-drained soil, 16 to 24 inches apart, in a sunny location.
- Cover the cubes with 6 inches of mulch, and water them until the mulch is wet.
If you would rather start your clones indoors, it is acceptable to plant each potato cube into its own pot with potting soil. Once you see a sprout in your pot, you’ll want to transfer it to a garden area outdoors as soon as weather permits. A typical growing season starts in the early spring with some people choosing to plant as late as mid-June.
You can do even more programs like this in the Biotechnology Learning Center at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis!
Note: Adapted from content by Andrea Helaine
Read more: How to Clone Potatoes | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_7786227_clone-potatoes.html#ixzz1kalVdnQ3