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  • Richard

    Whatever happened to Richard Frost's fig DNA testing project? I seem to remember he offered to conduct a large-scale dna testing procedure to compare and distinguish a large number of fig varieties, using his connections in the scientific community, if members sent him samples of varieties in their collections ( - there was a slight proviso that he could sell any plants propagated from the material sent in.). At some later stage he announced that there would be some delay in the testing, but since then - as far as I know - silence.
    At the time of the initial announcement - I think it was in 2018 or 2019 - I was very sceptical about this project because of the great expense it would normally incur : but Richard insisted that it would go ahead.as planned.
    I hope Richard reads this and can give a reasonable explanation, but I see he has not been active here for many months....
    Don, Danmark

  • #2
    I miss arguing with him. One of our conversation's was ended by mods and we were both wondering why. If you remember correctly He said he would never be part of ourfigs unless ourfigs banned David. Well it looks like he was not joking.
    Louisiana Zone 8/9. W/L Whatever fig I don't have.

    Comment


    • jessup42
      jessup42 commented
      Editing a comment
      He sure made it easy to argue with his perpetual holier than thou hyper-ego-intelligence

  • #3
    I didnt agree with some of his posts. But I always enjoyed and found his posts very informative and sometimes I even understood them
    MJ
    Chicago Zone 5
    Figbid Listings Varieties List

    Comment


    • goodfriendmike
      goodfriendmike commented
      Editing a comment
      fruitnut your right. Thats why I loved arguing with him. I would study so much just to go back and forth with him. He would send me files to read all the time. I have to admit I do not study as much now.

    • mwhight34
      mwhight34 commented
      Editing a comment
      Same here, most of what he said went about 10’ over my head 😅 even so I enjoyed learning what I could

    • Red_Sun
      Red_Sun commented
      Editing a comment
      I totally agree with what fruitnut said. Folks can always disagree or even argue on a lot of things. As long as those discussions are intelligent and not personal attacks, those are good discussions.

  • #4
    Like most things, it seems Richard was serious about ditching ourfigs until the fighunter is out. Yet another valuable contributor that is no longer a part of the community.

    Last I checked he is getting something like 20 or so varieties DNA tested this year and I'm assuming that means more to follow. I look forward to his results and analysis.

    https://geneticdistance.org/
    Northern VA, Zone 7a

    Comment


    • don_sanders
      don_sanders commented
      Editing a comment
      His RFP doesn’t end until close to the end of the year. I wouldn’t expect any testing until next year.

  • #5
    Richard said he was leaving until The Fig Hunter family was gone from the forum. I miss his presence here, he’s a very intelligent person but has the experience to back it up too which is rare

    But I believe that his genetic research is still happening and he’s posting results on his site.

    Comment


    • #6
      I met Richard about ten years ago on tomatoville forum site. His knowledge of tomatoes was impressive, his posts were very interesting and informative. Tomatoville is not your typical plant site. For example the site has over 240 amateur breeders as members. Professional growers from all over including Mexico too. Many horticultural authors are members
      Richard fit right in. Anyway he probably ran into problems getting it done. These are unusual times.

      Comment


      • #7
        That was and is still to this day a problem for me. With all your knowledge Richard you would leave everyone because you do not like someone else? Yep I am calling you out.
        Louisiana Zone 8/9. W/L Whatever fig I don't have.

        Comment


        • hambones
          hambones commented
          Editing a comment
          If memory serves, it was more of an issue of principles than of disliking a particular member.

        • goodfriendmike
          goodfriendmike commented
          Editing a comment
          hambones no sir was a lot more to it than that

      • #8
        I PM'd him a couple months ago asking for him to come back, but didn't get a response. Would love to see him show his collection here.
        Tom V
        San DiegoCa

        Comment


        • #9
          He's still updating his website, but I'll freely admit I cannot follow the science. I haven't looked in a bit, but he can be found on some of the facebook groups. Hopefully he'll come back at some point.
          Jason. San Diego, CA - Zone 10A WL: Boysenberry Blush

          Comment


          • #10
            So why did he not like the fig hunter/David? I've had my suspicions of David in the past but everything seemed to work itself out. Is there something I missed? Can someone link me?
            My CollectionFor TradeWish ListMy Listings
            Zone 8A •
            Greenville, NC

            Comment


            • JCT
              JCT commented
              Editing a comment
              jessup42 - He didn't tolerate fools and did have a bit of an acerbic tongue, but the only time I really saw him go after someone was with David. I do not recall him ever instigating any drama, except for this one time.

              As to a place of serenity? There's been plenty of drama on this forum, the only difference between here and F4F is our wonderful mods shut down any threads that get too contentious.

            • Shaft
              Shaft commented
              Editing a comment
              JCT still curious about the story. Richard seemed like my type of guy

            • JCT
              JCT commented
              Editing a comment
              Shaft - There were some accusations made, but I do not think that the full story ever came out.

          • #11
            Well, I'm sure Richard is intelligent, but I was focusing on his massive DNA-fig-testing project (I seem to remember it was at least a hundred varieties), which he vaunted here for months and months.

            But mainly I was thinking about those members here who sent him fig material for analysis (which btw he reserved the right to propagate and sell after the testing was done, to recoup some of the expense of the testing). Luckily I was not one of those who sent him cuttings..

            This project of his seems to have come to nothing, apart from, possibly, tests on a few varieties at some time in the future, the results of which. it seems, are due to be published elsewhere. Mmmm, let's see....

            In my opinion, the fact that Richard took a dislike to some member here is not a reasonable excuse for failing to give - at the very least - an explanation for his failure to live up to his commitments.

            Intelligent is not synonymous with ethical.
            Don, Danmark

            Comment


            • JCT
              JCT commented
              Editing a comment
              At one point he did mention he would be selling off his trees to pay for additional purchases so he could broaden the research into more varieties. For this reason he did not want to accept too many donations to avoid hurt feelings down the road. I know COVID has delayed things, he mentioned he was pretty much a hermit during the initial stages of the pandemic.

            • ginamcd
              ginamcd commented
              Editing a comment
              Richard owes this site nothing. He paid out of pocket for most of his trees, and will also be paying out of his own pocket for any testing.

              And when you add in the complication of "lockdowns" and shutdowns starting in early 2020, I don't think anybody should be surprised that little progress has been made.

            • mwhight34
              mwhight34 commented
              Editing a comment
              I was going to mention COVID like Gina did. I’m sure hes doing the best he can, given global circumstances. This is just my opinion but he doesn’t owe anyone here anything. He’s paying for all of this and doing all the work himself. Patience

          • #12
            The cleaning of fig samples, extracting the DNA, PCR to amplify the DNA and then sequencing the DNA is a huge task and that’s just the beginning steps.

            you need to blast the DNA against a reference genome or look for specific regions of the DNA that may have non repetitive regions to try and attempt to determine if MIB is the same as Black Madeira or Cravens Craving.

            Then there’s genetic drift and bud or sport mutations. Oh yeah, did you graft that fig because if it’s grafted, there could be lateral gene transfer.

            all this is very very expensive and time consuming.

            when I watch football, it’s easy to sit in my chair and yell at the screen saying, the quarterback should have seen the blitz coming or I would have faked the hand off to the running back and thrown a touchdown but when you know what actually is required to get the job done, it may actually not be as easy as it once seemed.

            I used to do plant research, I sterilized samples, extracted the DNA, PCRed the samples sequenced the samples and a bunch of other stuff and it’s a lot of work.

            I don’t know Richard but if Richard processed a few samples for some free cuttings, that’s already a lot more than I would have done. Without reference genomes and a lot of support for equipment, reagents, personnel, lab space sequencing support and especially a good bioinformatics team, there’s no way I would even consider taking on a project like that.

            whom even has the real variety? Do we just all agree that Harvey’s trees are the real deal and use his trees genetics as the reference genome for that variety?

            Simon

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            • dondan
              dondan commented
              Editing a comment
              Yes, you're right. We didn't believe it could be done, because it was a gigantic task, but Richard insisted he would do it, because of his connections in the scientific community (he was always boasting about that).

              I don't think you get my point.

          • #13
            Maybe he was highly motivated to begin with but lost steam. I’m not trying to take sides. I’ve learned not to promise what I can’t deliver.

            in my years, I’ve learned it’s better to under promise and over deliver rather than the other way around.

            I do a lot of experimenting with plants and I’m often super stoked at the prospects of a successful experiment and sometimes I bite off more than I can chew. However, we sometimes need to think big in order to push the envelope of discovery.

            Simon

            Comment


            • polecat
              polecat commented
              Editing a comment
              At one point, Richard quoted Plant Foundation Services as being a source that could provide full sequencing for $300, and fingerprinting for a fraction of that. Their site quotes a price for fingerprinting close to $300, and not available for figs. It was one of many inconsistencies that worried me.
              Last edited by polecat; 08-26-2021, 12:38 PM.

          • #14
            There’s little growth when people are in agreement. Too bad Richard is gone. We need more people like him.
            Anthony- Fig Finder of Los Angeles

            Instagram

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            • Shaft
              Shaft commented
              Editing a comment
              Amen.

          • #15
            Originally posted by dondan View Post
            if members sent him samples of varieties in their collections.... no excuse for failing to give - at the very least - an explanation for his failure to live up to his commitments.
            Intelligent is not synonymous with ethical...
            I was very sceptical about this project...
            ... I hope Richard reads this and can give a reasonable explanation.
            I don't understand. Did you send him cuttings? You make it sound like you didn't, but you just think others might have? It sounds like you think he owes you personally an explanation because you DOUBTED him?

            Either I'm misunderstanding something, or this is the worst case of entitlement I've ever seen. It is a personal research project. He can work on it when he wants. He can quit if he wants. He has zero obligation to anyone. If you didn't pay him, I don't see how in the world you can possibly call him unethical for not producing a finished project yet.
            Seattle (zone 8b).

            Comment


            • Shaft
              Shaft commented
              Editing a comment
              I was getting the same vibes.

          • #16
            I for one wish him well on his project. Anytime anyone advances the science concerning FIGS, I'm all for it.
            Jason. San Diego, CA - Zone 10A WL: Boysenberry Blush

            Comment


            • #17
              @Figwasp
              Did you send him cuttings? You make it sound like you didn't, but you just think others might have? It sounds like you think he owes you personally an explanation because you DOUBTED him?
              ... Either I'm misunderstanding something, or this is the worst case of entitlement I've ever seen. It is a personal research project. He can work on it when he wants. He can quit if he wants. He has zero obligation to anyone ...


              Look, Richard bragged time and time again on this forum about this great project of his and how he was able to pull it off against all the odds: and he was also praised time and time again for his ability to do so. Those who followed this at the time - presumably you were not one of them - will no doubt remember this. It was a big thing on Ourfigs. Richard then asked people to send him material for testing - and wouldn't it be remarkable if nobody did?
              But then ... complete silence. As I mentioned, all sorts of things could have hindered Richard's project ,through no fault of his own. But surely. after all the bombast, it would be natural to explain why, if only in the form of a few words. Don't you think? Not to me personally – as you so impertinently suggest – but to those who had followed and praised his initiative, and especially any who had sent him cuttings or plants.
              Yes, it was a "personal research project", but he made it public, and acquired acclaim (and probably plant material).
              I have sometimes had pleasant exchanges with Richard, and there is no malice in my intent here. I just think he has some small obligation to members who followed him here to give a short account of why the project didn't turn out as planned.
              Don, Danmark

              Comment


              • #18
                https://community.wolfram.com/groups..._auth=Mt67Z65g
                I don't understand why this is done, how this knowledge can be used, but it's beautiful
                Андрей. N.-W. Кавказ, пень Абрау, 7б-8а

                Comment


                • #19
                  I think this thread has gone too far on the personal level. I do not know Richard. But I've seen his activities here and https://growingfruit.org/.

                  I enjoy his posts and have learnt from him.

                  But it is not right to have a thread like this on Richard's back, where he is not here to defend himself.....

                  Negative thread in public is always bad IMO.
                  Princeton, New Jersey, 6B
                  flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/red-sun/albums
                  http://growingfruit.org/ for all fruits

                  Comment


                  • JCT
                    JCT commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Agreed!

                  • Noah Mercy
                    Noah Mercy commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I agree. For all we know he's sick, or his wife is, or who knows? Yes, it's been a while, ask the question, OK, fair enough. Now we can be patient - time will tell, what's the hurry.

                • #20
                  My last post with the link does not contain any negative, only the last post by Richard with a date of 11 days ago.
                  Андрей. N.-W. Кавказ, пень Абрау, 7б-8а

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                  • #21
                    WELL, WELL, WELL......some interesting emotions being thrown around here....as Richard is a personal friend and we are in frequent contact, he sent me this email on Aug 17th:

                    Hi Nancy!
                    Exciting events regarding genetic studies of figs are happening out here. The article I wrote last year is in its final stages of revisions at the publisher and hopefully will hit the press by year's end. Also, I've been in contact with a group from U of AZ in Tucson who would like to collaborate in genetic measurements of my repository. They're coming out for a visit soon and I'll probably reciprocate with trips to Tucson.
                    Cheers,
                    Richard


                    so he is still in progress on the project. He has not been involved in the forum for several months now....some posters hit the nail on the head regarding the dispute with Fig Hunter harassing one of Richard's and my mutual friends..that harassment situation has been going on for multiple years and he and I have had enough of it. Richard gave an ultimatum to the mods that either Fig hunter should be banned from ourfigs, or he would leave....and so he left. .That is why Richard disabled his account here. He did not delete his account in order that all his past postings would remain visible for anyone wishing to read those. But he has no connection to PMs any more, so don't bother to try that.

                    Once he is finished with his genetics work on figs, he plans to do the same with mulberries, and other fruits. I imagine once he figures out all the proper contacts, it will be easier to do the subsequent species. He says that the figs "will go" once he is finished with that work. I imagine he will keep some plants, though.

                    I don't know about people donating genetic material to him, but I do know that he has a nursery license and the USDA is watching closely due to his various certifications that he does not accept any materials other than from properly credentialed nurseries. There are no restrictions to accepting material from within his agricultural district. Perhaps in the beginning he didn't have those licenses and restrictions...but he has had them for a long time and has to be careful what he acquires now.

                    I hope this clears up any dissent or confusion. Thanks to all that stood up for him. He is an amazing man and a very loyal friend.
                    Pm me for the list of trees available for sale.
                    Phoenix, AZ zone 9B

                    Comment


                    • drew51
                      drew51 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      When if he gets to mulberries I have an interesting sample of morus nigra. It is from Bulgaria. A famous tree there stands alone in zone 6b. I have a seedling from the tree which produced male flowers so it’s self pollenated. No other nigra within a hundred miles. Only example in the USA. The seedling has the genetics. It would be interesting to compared to other nigras. I’ll have to tell him about it sometime.

                    • figs and tropicals
                      figs and tropicals commented
                      Editing a comment
                      yes, drew51 that sounds interesting...I'll send him that info...

                    • drew51
                      drew51 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Richard can contact me on growingfruit.org same name. I have known him a decade now so he knows who I am. Yes the tree is famous and many Bulgarian articles were written about it. Links to those can be found on growing fruit. it is known as Tsarigradska mulberry from Vratsa Bulgaria zone 6 (morus nigra)
                      Also known as Stambol mulberry or Constantinople mulberry.
                      https://translate.google.com/transla...hernica-556310
                      I have two seedlings, only known seedlings in the USA. Cloning the tree has been difficult for my Bulgarian friend, no luck at all. I'm experimenting with grafting my seedlings unto Russian alba rootstock. No luck so far.
                      Mine are now 4th leaf.
                      Some photos from 6/2019
                      https://i.postimg.cc/HWK7NVjK/MN-2019-06-12.jpg
                      https://i.postimg.cc/wjYR6ZXQ/MN-2019-06-12.jpg

                      It has thrown some spade leaves this year for the first time. It is protected in the winter to no lower than 25F I wish to test grafts of it for more hardiness if I can get any to take. No fruit yet.
                      Today
                      https://i.postimg.cc/SKmSXw4B/M-Nigra-2021-08-28.jpg
                      Last edited by drew51; 08-28-2021, 12:07 PM.

                  • #22
                    drew51 Do the leaves look like a match with your mulberry? I grew it from seed I ordered from Trades winds and lost the tag. Click image for larger version

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                    Louisiana Zone 8/9. W/L Whatever fig I don't have.

                    Comment


                    • goodfriendmike
                      goodfriendmike commented
                      Editing a comment
                      drew51 my tree started out with spade leaves. Now is has fig shaped. Probably not the same as yours but that might help me narrow down what it is.

                    • drew51
                      drew51 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Yeah interesting plant for sure. My second seedling only has spade leaves. I think you do have a morus species at least.

                    • goodfriendmike
                      goodfriendmike commented
                      Editing a comment
                      drew51 I believe so as well. Maybe Morus alba. Only time will tell.

                  • #23
                    I've never seen mulberry leaves like those....
                    Pm me for the list of trees available for sale.
                    Phoenix, AZ zone 9B

                    Comment


                    • #24
                      Good news from Richard about his genetic testing...;got this email just now....



                      Today I met at my home with a geneticist from U of AZ Tucson. He is also a horticulturist - and having been raised in Italy he has an affinity for figs. Apparently the true fig beetle is prevalent there and so as a child he learned to always open a fresh fig before eating.

                      We discussed a two-phase research project which is similar to two other proposals I've received to date. He will prepare a bid in the coming weeks.

                      The first phase would begin next spring: it involves obtaining plant samples and the lab work to produce the data. In his experience the latex in figs can make it difficult to chemically isolate genetic material so that part could take several months. In one case he recalled, the investigators resorted to using outer peel of juvenile fruit to avoid the latex. Also in this phase the data that comes from the genetic scanning equipment would be digitally untangled (it's originally a mess, really) and then organized into chromosome "assemblies". These assemblies would then be posted on GenBank for the world to access at no charge.

                      The second phase could begin as early as next summer if all goes well with the tissue samples. Its purpose is to produce much more exacting structural organizations of the 13 chromosomes. Each chromosome would be partitioned into its sets of genes and repeat motifs, with each of those into their respective loci, then in turn the loci into their two alleles, and finally the letter sequences for the amino acids in each allele. These structures are necessary for determining better sets of genetic markers for parental relations, sexual characteristics, fruit flavors, colors, and a host of other default attributes. I say default because a fig whose exterior is green & brown when ripe in southern CA can be black when ripe in Karimabad. The work from this phase would also be posted on GenBank.

                      Once better markers have been determined then hundreds of figs can be inexpensively analyzed in a few days. This will be follow-on effort for myself and many other repositories worldwide.
                      Pm me for the list of trees available for sale.
                      Phoenix, AZ zone 9B

                      Comment


                      • Rudypayraise
                        Rudypayraise commented
                        Editing a comment
                        That's just amazing. True work for the fig community. Keep us posted as it appears his hands will be tied on this.

                      • Figbert
                        Figbert commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Thanks for the update, that's great news!

                      • mwhight34
                        mwhight34 commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Thanks to you and Richard for the update, best of luck to him!
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