Ginkgo Biloba Trees Never Die; Researchers Think They Know Why
Turns out trees can live much longer than humans, with some including the Ginkgo biloba tree living for more than 3,000 years.
A team of researchers in what is being billed as the most comprehensive plant aging study ever conducted, figured out what they think makes the tree and others like it survive for so many years: an abundance of antioxidants and antimicrobials.
According to Li Wang, a plant molecular biologist at Yangzhou University and a team of researchers, as Ginkgo biloba trees age they release more immune-supporting chemicals than the younger trees and as a result, don't have a lifespan that is predetermined like other trees. Their work was published in journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Trees have no end life
What's more, researchers found that the photosynthetic ability and the quality of the seeds did not change as the tree aged.
To come to the conclusion the researchers looked at the genes in the leaves and in the cambium, which is a layer of stem cells between the internal wood and external bark of the tree. While the genes of the leaves showed and end of life the cambium didn't look any different whether it was an old Ginkgo biloba tree or a young one.
These trees, which are native to China, date back to prehistoric times with some of the fossilised leaves as much as 200 million years old. While it has been tough in the past to study these trees, thanks to the genome sequencing technology used by the researchers they were able to date the trees.
What about redwoods?
The same defensive mechanisms that keep Ginkgo biloba trees from an end of life could also be present in other trees. Rick Dixon, a biochemist at the University of North Texas and co-author of the paper said in one report redwoods which can live on average as much as 1,500 years and English yew trees may have the same attributes.