If trees were able to speak, Ginkgo tree could have been the best storyteller and above all, the greatest history teacher! Why? Well, because they have been around us for thousands of years. In fact, they might be the only species who have survived some of the earth's greatest natural and man-made catastrophes. Yes, it's all true. ginkgo tree was able to survive the extinction of the dinosaurs, ice age and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
But the question is how? How did they survive all of these calamities?
The scientist has started working with 1000 years old Ginkgo biloba trees in China. And by decoding their genes, they are starting to reveal the long-awaited answer.
Before we began to understand why ginkgo tree lives so long, let's find out why we do not! According to biologists, as a human grows out immune system start becoming older as well. It becomes inefficient and makes problems. However, the genetics of the ginkgo tree tell us a different story.
Studies conducted on different aged ginkgo tree-rings, cells, bark, leaves and seeds show us these trees have an exceptional immune system. And, both young and old trees produce rare kinds of protective chemicals to fight off stresses caused by pests or drought. These pathogens holds elements such as antioxidants, antimicrobials and plant hormones. The production of these pathogens never stops so the trees' defense mechanism is always active unlike ours!
Now, they live long for sure, but it doesn't mean that they do not age. They grow up and over time, bad weather or other things can damage their apical meristem. Apical meristem is a cell-generating region that helps the tree to grow taller. Once Apical meristem gets damaged, the trees' height gets limited. And like other trees, every year leaves die and fall off.
However, most of the tree's Cambium (helps the tree to grow out) remain intact and active. Hence, they carry essential elements such as water and nutrients so the body of the tree grows out and stays healthy even if the tree becomes a hump.
According to a biologist, there's a possibility that this tree can live forever. Since they are a modular organism they can replace their body parts like roots, leaves, wood constantly to survive and evolve. Unlike us humans. Once we are born, all of our parts are there and began rotating with the age.
Biologist Peter Brown says- these trees do not necessarily die due to their old age. But it does for human development, drought. Unfortunately, these reasons are all too common to us for human for demise of almost every species of animals and trees.