General, Research, Technology

The secret of the millennial ginkgo tree is unraveled

Ginkgo tree is not without reason called a living fossil. This unique plant has no analogues in the world of flora, and its life span exceeds 1000 years. Ginkgo was able to survive the ice age and the atomic explosion in Hiroshima. Moreover, on its basis, thousands of medicines for various diseases are created annually. Today, scientists managed to uncover the secret of good health and longevity of ginkgo. According to the results of a publication published in PNAS, wood creates chemicals that protect it from disease and drought. And, unlike other plants, its genes are not programmed for aging.

Ginkgo trees are listed in the Red Book and are endangered in the wild

Ginkgo can be found in parks and gardens aroundto the world, but in the wild, trees are on the verge of extinction due to large-scale deforestation. Ginkgo, listed in the Red Book, hails from China and is the last surviving representative of a long line of ancient trees.

Stress Relief - The Longevity of Ginkgo Trees

As scientists from the University write in their workNorth Texas, the secret of ginkgo lies in the fact that as the trees age they do not show signs of weakening their ability to defend themselves from stress. In the course of the work, researchers from the USA and China studied Ginkgo trees aged 15 to 667 years, extracting tree rings and analyzing cells, bark, leaves and seeds. They found that both young and old trees produce protective chemicals to combat stress caused by pathogens or drought. These include antioxidants, antimicrobials, and plant hormones that protect ginkgo from drought and other environmental factors. Genetic studies have shown that genes associated with aging do not turn on automatically at a specific point in time, as in other plants.

Autumn foliage of a ginkgo tree in the sun

Thus, despite the fact that the age-old treeIt seems dilapidated due to damage from frost or lightning strikes, all the internal processes necessary for healthy growth function perfectly. Researchers believe that the results of their work will encourage others to delve into what seems to be an important sign of the longevity of ginkgo and other long-lived trees.

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How many long-lived trees in the world?

Today, the eldest pine tree Methuselah (Pinus longaeva) is officially considered the oldest living tree in the world - its age is estimated at more than 4800 years.

Methuselah is the oldest tree on Earth. Grows in eastern California (USA)

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Also the oldest trees on the planet areColonial trees (Pando trees) that have a single root system. The total age of this colony is at least 80 thousand years, although the age of individual trees does not exceed 130 years. Experts believe that in addition to a constant supply of nutrients, light and water, the ability of trees to live for so long is associated with slow growth rates, cell adaptation and relative protection from secondary external influences such as pests, diseases and extreme climatic events.