NYT published a study with reference to the scientific journal Nature Communications, which talks about the deciphering of the genome of the Amazing Welwichia – a plant that has been growing for centuries in the Namib Desert. In conditions of almost complete absence of moisture.
According to the author of the study, Tao Wang, thanks to the decoding of the Velvichia genome, it is planned to breed more drought-tolerant crops in the future. It is no coincidence that scientists call Velvichia amazing: in this plant, leaves grow from the tips of the stem and branches, the first shoots die and form a type of tissue that supplies the growing body with fresh cells.
It is noteworthy that this cell division began after a genetic error – genome duplication – during a period of prolonged drought in the region and the formation of the Namib Desert. At the same time, most of Welvichia's DNA is retrotransposons – self-replicating chains that require large expenditures of energy, from which the plant was able to get rid of in the process of evolution and which scientists are now following in their footsteps.
It is noted that the increased activity of a number of genes allows Velvichia to grow under conditions of constant environmental stress. The age of the largest plants that are still alive is at least three thousand years.
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