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Regina Bailey

Christmas Tree DNA

By December 25, 2009

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Image: Suat Eman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Researchers have discovered that Christmas trees have about seven times more DNA than do humans. Swedish researchers plan to map spruce tree DNA, making it the first conifer to have its genes mapped. While humans have forty-six chromosomes per cell, conifers have twelve. Conifer chromosomes however, are much larger than human chromosomes and contain more DNA. It is not yet known why conifers have so much DNA.

Mapping conifer DNA will lead to a better understanding of how to use wood substances more efficiently. According to researcher Stefan Jansson, "it will provide us with the possibility of developing genetic tests for the various properties of trees, such as the fuel value of the wood, or the trees' frost resistance and resistance to diseases, just as the mapping of the human genome has made this possible in medicine." The researchers also hope that the study will lead to a better understanding of how to prevent tree diseases.

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