Longest Genome Found in Fern, Tmesipteris Oblanceolata

Scientists have discovered the largest genome of any known organism. The title holder is a small fern called Tmesipteris oblanceolata, which has a whopping 160 billion base pairs in its DNA, according to a study published in the journal iScience. To put this into perspective, the human genome has approximately three billion base pairs, meaning that the fern's genome is approximately 50 times larger. The genome of T. oblanceolata is so large that if unwound, the DNA from a single cell of the fern would stretch longer than a football field, while human DNA would only cover about six feet.

This size discrepancy is surprising to scientists because it seems counterintuitive that a plant could have such a large genome. The study's authors suspect that T. oblanceolata is close to the upper limit of genome size, but other botanists have suggested that this may not be the case. The massive genome has puzzled researchers as they work to understand what ecological and evolutionary advantages or disadvantages these extreme genome sizes present. Although the fern is unassuming and would likely go unnoticed amid the undergrowth of a forest, its genome makes it an exceedingly fascinating organism.

Scientists are continually studying the genomes of various organisms to compare and better understand their connections to evolution and ecology. Despite having only studied the genomes of around 20,000 species, researchers still have a lot to learn regarding the diverse range of organisms and genome sizes that exist within the natural world.

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