A research team from the University of Lausanne led by plant biologist
Philippe Reymond discovered that the
of the 234-year old oak tree in their campus has remained unchanged. The
team discovered this after sequencing the genome from leaves on lower, older
branches and upper, younger ones, and tallied the number of single-letter
changes they found in the tree's DNA.
The team found that the number of mutations was much lower than expected
based on calculations of the number of cell divisions that occurred between
the lower branch and the higher one. Daniel Schoen, plant evolutionary
biologist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada said that a clearer
picture of plant development could help breeders as they increasingly focus
on long-lived, perennial plants. "If, as plants age, there is this mutation
accumulation that could impact vigor, we would want to know about it. We
need more information of this type," he said.