Some trees, such as the Ginkgo Biloba, can live more than 3000 years. Science Mag just revealed an interesting study that may even be the most comprehensive plant aging study until now.
This unveils the molecular mechanisms that are allowing the Gingko Biloba and maybe other trees as well to live this long.
Immortality is the default condition of plants
The online publication mentioned above notes that the study offers the very first real genetic evidence for something that experts have suspected for a really long time.
“The default condition in plants is immortality,” according to Howard Thomas, a plant biologist from Aberystwyth University who was not involved in the study.
In order to make this really bold claim, experts started with thin cores of 34 healthy G.biloba trees in Anlu in China’s Hubei province, and Pizhou, in Jiangsu province.
Li Wang, a plant molecular biologist at Yangzhou University, and his colleagues examined the growth rings and discovered that the ginkgos’ growth didn’t slow down after hundreds of years.
It’s been even revealed that sometimes the growth rate rises.
What happens at a genetic level?
Experts wanted to discover what’s happening at a genetic level and they compared the genetic expression in leaves and the cambium – this is a thin layer of stem cells between the internal wood and external bark.
It’s also important to note that older trees have just a few layers of cambial cells. The online publication mentioned above notes that “The team sequenced the trees’ RNA, examined hormone production, and screened miRNA—molecules that can turn specific genes on and off—in trees ranging from 3 years old to 667 years old.”
It’s been reported that the expression of genes that are associated with the final and fatal stage of life increased in dying leaves.
The massive discovery is that when experts examined the expression of the same genes in the cambium, they discovered that there’s no difference between young and old trees. This suggests the fact that trees are unlikely to die of old age.
Check out the original article on Science Mag in order to learn more details.
Blogging and posting articles for over 9 years, Rada Mateescu is especially enthusiastic about technology, science, and health-related issues. You’ll find her articles mostly in the Science section on Dual Dove.