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Crop Biotech Update

Ancient Oak Genome Sequenced; Reveals Youth

June 28, 2017

A research team from the University of Lausanne led by plant biologist Philippe Reymond discovered that the genome of the 234-year old oak tree in their campus has remained unchanged. The team discovered this after sequencing the genome from leaves on lower, older branches and upper, younger ones, and tallied the number of single-letter changes they found in the tree's DNA.

The team found that the number of mutations was much lower than expected based on calculations of the number of cell divisions that occurred between the lower branch and the higher one. Daniel Schoen, plant evolutionary biologist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada said that a clearer picture of plant development could help breeders as they increasingly focus on long-lived, perennial plants. "If, as plants age, there is this mutation accumulation that could impact vigor, we would want to know about it. We need more information of this type," he said.

For other details, read the news article in Nature.