The Largest Genome Ever Discovered Belongs to a Small Fern

In the field of evolutionary biology, a recent discovery has been made that has intrigued scientists worldwide. A small fern known as Tmesipteris oblanceolata was found to have the largest genome of any living organism on Earth. Despite its unassuming appearance and small size, this fern’s DNA within its cells would stretch over 300 feet if unwound – taller than the Statue of Liberty.

The findings were published in the journal iScience and have sparked many questions among researchers about how and why this plant ended up with such a vast amount of DNA. Dr. Jaume Pellicer, an evolutionary biologist at the Botanical Institute of Barcelona and co-lead author of the study, discussed these mysteries with Ira Flatow in a recent interview.

Tmesipteris oblanceolata is native to New Caledonia in the Southwest Pacific and only grows a few inches tall. Its genome comprises 160.45 billion base pairs, which is 50 times more than the human genome. The enormity of this genome raises many questions about its function and significance in the plant’s survival and adaptation to its environment.

Researchers are also wondering whether this giant genome may be related to other large genomes found in certain species, such as those found in some bacteria or fungi. Additionally, it is possible that Tmesipteris oblanceolata may possess unique genetic traits that allow it to survive in its specific environment or even provide clues for future research into genetic diversity and evolution.

Overall, the discovery of Tmesipteris oblanceolata’s massive genome highlights just how much we still have to learn about our own planet’s diverse flora and fauna, as well as their underlying genetic structures and functions.

By Sophia Gonzalez

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