Using genetic engineering and sectioning, Danish scientists have come close to developing a variety of spruce that does not shed its needles even after it has been felled..
In the branches of fir trees, which are usually decorated during the Christmas holidays, there is a small piece of fabric that holds the needles. Over time, the cells in this tissue rupture, causing the needles to fall off. This process is triggered by certain genes, and it has been found that some tree families are better at retaining needles than others..
For several years now, a team from the University of Copenhagen has been analyzing the genetic material of the European Christmas tree Abies nordmanniana and improving breeding methods to improve their appearance and prevent needles falling out..
Scientists use both genomics and traditional breeding methods, which they say are still the most useful.
The team has made some progress in this direction, but the work has not yet been completed. The difficulty lies not only in the genetic risks for future generations, but also in the fact that the weakening of cells can be influenced by a whole cluster of genes that will be difficult to change..
This study is conducted to satisfy aesthetic needs of people. Denmark is the largest supplier of Christmas trees in Europe and sells around 11 million trees annually. Breeders expect that improved quality will expand the market by attracting new consumers and reduce the share «marriage», which is now 20-30%.
Scientists are also beginning to adapt plants to solve and other problems. For example, biologists have developed a houseplant that cleans the air of carcinogens..
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: mtdata
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