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Scientists Sequence Genome Norwegian Spruce, Common Christmas Tree

  • Michael Briggs , Design & Trend Staff Writer
  • May, 22, 2013, 04:05 PM
The 2012 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is pictured in New York November 14, 2012. This tree is an 80-foot (24.38-meter) tall Norway Spruce from Flanders, New Jersey.
The 2012 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is pictured in New York November 14, 2012. This tree is an 80-foot (24.38-meter) tall Norway Spruce from Flanders, New Jersey.

 

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The first gymnosperm genome, Norwegian wood, has been sequenced. Scientists from the Umeå Plant Science Centre in Umeå and the Science for Life Laboratory in Stockholm mapped the genome of Norway spruce, the common Christmas tree. 

The genome is seven times larger than that of humans and is the largest genome to have ever been sequenced. The group contains seed-bearing plants that don't produce flowers and includes conifers, cycads and ginkgos. Researchers used used powerful sequencers and new sequence-analyzing software for the massive genome.

"Forest tree breeding is now entering a new era, and Sweden has the potential to be in the forefront of development," said Professor Ove Nilsson from UPSC. "Newer and more effective methods can begin to be used to ensure that the over 200 million tree seedlings planted each year in Sweden are as strong, healthy and well-adapted as possible for both poor and rich soil areas in different parts of the country."

The popular Christmas tree can grow to heights above 30-meter. According to the study, the genome is so large due to "genome obesity," which is caused by repetitive DNA sequences. These extensive sequences have been building up for several hundred million years. Other plants and animal species are able to eliminate such repetitive DNA.

The team's findings appear in the May 22nd issue of Nature.

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