Friday, August 13, 2010
Do tomatoes experience live birth?
Unless you look closely, it looks like maggots are growing under the skin of this tomato. In this photo I removed the skin of the tomato to give you a closer look. Who would want to eat a tomato riddled with maggots?
Some of these ‘maggots’ have even pushed through the skin and are invading the air space surrounding this tomato. In the photo immediately below you can see other 'maggots' that have escaped through the skin and others that are about to escape.
These ‘maggots'’ turn out to be tiny tomato plants. The seeds germinated inside the fruit and the baby seedlings pushed their way to and even through the skin of the tomato. This is called vivipary.
Why did the seeds germinate and begin to grow? Seed dormancy is usually terminated by low temperatures or by the application of a plant growth substance such as ethephon.
Ethephon is often applied to tomatoes to enhance ripening or to ensure all the tomatoes in an order are the same shade of red when they arrive at the grocer. Was this tomato treated with ethephon or was another substance applied? Or did something else trigger the germination of the seeds?