World’s largest genome – level 3

06-06-2024 07:00

A fern from New Caledonia now holds the world record for the largest genome of any living thing.

The fern’s genome, or complete set of DNA, is about 100 meters long when stretched out, which would surpass Big Ben. Dr. Ilia Leitch from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, finds it amazing that such a small plant has the largest genome ever discovered. This fern, known as Tmesipteris oblanceolate, belongs to an ancient group of plants that existed even before dinosaurs. It grows on the trunks and branches of rainforest trees. Scientists measured the DNA by seeing how much dye it absorbed, revealing a genome size of 160 billion base pairs. For comparison, the human genome has about 3 billion base pairs. The fern holds three Guinness World Records for its large genome.

Understanding why some plants have large genomes could help scientists learn about their functions and risks of extinction. Big genomes need more resources, which can affect a plant’s survival.

Difficult words: fern (a green plant with long stems and no flowers), extinction (the end of a species).

You can watch the video news lower on this page.

What method did scientists use to measure the size of the Tmesipteris oblanceolate fern's genome and how does it compare to the human genome?


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