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Zygocactus     11/20/20s
I've been trying to make good seed of x-mas cacti, no matter their identity, for years. I've made some and I've planted some of the seed, but I can't seem to get the resulting seedlings to live. But, no matter, I keep on trying.
I think that a problem is that the x-mas cactus propagators have been propagating beyond reasonableness. There actually is apparently a biological limit to how many divisions that cells may do before they should give up. There is a name of this number, but I've forgotten it, and I've forgotten the number of divisions, but my guess, which I think is pretty good, is around 60. So a given cell can divide for about 60 divisions before the life force (what??) shuts down. Lest you think this is something insignificant, it means that the number of cells after 60 divisions is 2 raised to the 60th power. This is 11,520,000,000,000,000,000 rounded off. My guess is that this many cells, from ONE CELL left alone to divide unhindered, and all of its progeny, unhindered might weigh more than the earth, maybe more than the sun, whatever. Good thing almost all cells have some sort of death programmed into them. Otherwise, there would be very few things alive on earth. Typically, in a cell population there are very few parent cells that can divide to make new cells. The daughter cells it makes can't divide. This is not true for cancer cells. A cancer's cells can all be parent cells. Incidentally, this is probably all wrong. That estimate of cell divisions was, I think, for a human cell. If not human, then mammalian. The oldest animal alive today is a bowhead whale somewhere up in the Arctic. It's more than 200 years old, and it has lots of friends and relatives nearly as old. The oldest tree is a bristlecone pine in Nevada somewhere. It's more than 5000 years old. And if we ever figure out how to date fungus mycelium, we might find some older than 5000 years. Surely that pine has had more than 60 cell divisions in 5000 years? Given the rate of growth of xmas cacti and for how long we've been cloning them (150-250 years?) I'm pretty sure that the 60 division limit doesn't govern this plant's life. Of course, I'm just a simple retired organic chemist and I may have all this wrong or wrong-ish.   (43/48)   

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