Silver fir genome decoded

Silver fir is an important tree species in view of climate change. In order to better investigate the tree, an international scientific team with the participation of the Thünen Institute of Frorest genetics has decoded the remarkably large genome of a silver fir near Zurich.

The first sequenced silver fir tree stands in a forest near Zurich and is a rather inconspicuous representative of its species. (© Christian Rellstab/WSL)

«AA_WSL01» is written in blue on an inconspicuous fir tree in the Rameren Forest in Birmensdorf near Zurich (Switzerland). The DNA for the first sequenced silver fir genome – the complete genetic material – was obtained from its seeds and needles.

Worldwide, silver fir is only the sixth conifer species whose genome sequence is known – which was quite a challenge, as coniferous trees have an extremely large genome with many repeating, similar stretches of DNA sequence. This made the sequencing an elaborate effort, which was only possible thanks to international cooperation. The research team decoded a total of 18 billion base pairs, the individual building blocks of DNA. That's six times more than in the human genome.

In view of climate change, the silver fir is a particularly interesting tree species because it copes better with heat and drought than the spruce.

Further information can be found here.