Loblolly pine trees (shown) are used for lumber, paper and many other products. Scientists have compiled the organism’s genome, the largest ever attempted.
Deciphering the genome of the loblolly pine is a tall order, as is perhaps fitting for a tree that can grow to be 30 meters in height.
Researchers sequenced the conifer’s (Pinus taeda) approximately 24 billion bases of DNA, Steven Salzberg of Johns Hopkins University reported May 10. That surpasses the previous record holder, wheat, by more than 7 billion bases. The DNA is distributed over 12 chromosomes, each about two-thirds the size of the entire human genome.
A preliminary analysis suggests the trees may have up to 64,000 protein-coding genes, although Salzberg says the number is probably smaller. Humans have just over 22,000 protein-coding genes.
Next, the researchers will tackle the sugar pine genome. That one is even bigger, with more than 35 billion DNA bases.