The family of pines are part of the oldest group of trees, the gymnosperms, which arose when dinosaurs were still roaming around the Earth 290 million years ago. Pines hold several records because of this fact, since among the family are the oldest-living trees, the nearly 5,000 year old bristlecone pines of Nevada and California. Now joining that lofty group are the owners of the largest and most intricate genome fully explored to date.
The loblolly pine, also known as the southern yellow pine, is a complex species that has been around for millennia. Because of this fact, these trees have done well and are widespread, existing in many ecosystems. Having survived plague and climate alterations, the species has a very lengthy DNA sequence that is just now being studied in its entirety.
This subspecies of pine is the tree species most used in the U.S. for wood pulp production. This is because it can be farmed in many regions and climates, and because it has survived thousands of years and built up resistance to many of the bacteria and fungus that kill other tree species. Because of this resistance, however, and the trees’ long history on earth, its genome is one of the more complicated ones ever studied. As each disease is battled by the trees’ genome, the species inherits grafts of other DNA onto the strand which can be used to fight disease incursions in future.
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