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Genetics of the tree of life

Scientists advance genetic understanding of African baobab tree

Date:
August 27, 2020
Source:
USDA Forest Service - Southern Research Station
Summary:
Baobab trees can live for more than a thousand years and provide food, livestock fodder, medicinal compounds, and raw materials. Scientists counted the significant tree's chromosomes -- information critical for conservation, agricultural improvement, and further genetic work.
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The African baobab tree (Adansonia digitata) is called the tree of life. Baobab trees can live for more than a thousand years and provide food, livestock fodder, medicinal compounds, and raw materials. Baobab trees are incredibly significant. However, there are growing conservation concerns and until now, a lack of genetic information.

The African baobab tree has 168 chromosomes -- critical knowledge for further genetic studies, conservation, and improvement for agricultural purposes. The findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports. Previous studies estimated that the tree has between 96 and 166 chromosomes.

"We were able to unequivocally count the chromosomes," says Nurul Faridi, a USDA Forest Service research geneticist who co-led the study with Hamidou Sakhanokho, a USDA Agricultural Research Service research geneticist.

The researchers used fluorescent probes to see the genetic components of individual chromosomes within the cells -- which glow like jewels.

The analysis also revealed that the tree has a massive nucleolus organizer region (NOR). Relative to the main chromosome body, this region appears larger than that of any other plant species. During certain stages of the cell cycle, nucleoli form at the NORs. The nucleoli are essential for ribosome assembly and protein synthesis in eukaryotes and are an important feature that differentiates eukaryotes from prokaryotes.

"These genetic findings are foundational and will make genetic conservation of the African baobab tree more efficient and effective," says Dana Nelson, a coauthor and project leader of the Southern Research Station's genetic unit. "This research is also a precursor for tree breeding programs seeking to improve baobab for silvicultural applications."


Story Source:

Materials provided by USDA Forest Service - Southern Research Station. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nurul Islam-Faridi, Hamidou F. Sakhanokho, C. Dana Nelson. New chromosome number and cyto-molecular characterization of the African Baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) - 'The Tree of Life'. Scientific Reports, 2020; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-68697-6

Cite This Page:

USDA Forest Service - Southern Research Station. "Genetics of the tree of life." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 August 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/08/200827155003.htm>.
USDA Forest Service - Southern Research Station. (2020, August 27). Genetics of the tree of life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 28, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/08/200827155003.htm
USDA Forest Service - Southern Research Station. "Genetics of the tree of life." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/08/200827155003.htm (accessed February 28, 2024).

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