Brno, Aug 1 (CTK) – Botanists from Brno’s Masaryk University have discovered a unique type of the ginkgo biloba tree that has four sets of chromosomes instead of the regular two, and they are now growing it at the university campus, Martina Fojtu, from it press section, said in a press release yesterday.
Experts have been trying to cultivate this type of ginkgo biloba artificially for several years in vain.
Ginkgo biloba is the only living species in the division Ginkgophyta, all others being extinct, and this is why it is considered a “living fossil,” dating back to 270 million years.
A different type of ginkgo biloba was discovered by researchers from the Institute of Botany and Zoology of the Faculty of Science in Brno among several seedlings of the tree growing in the botanical garden.
One of the nine small trees had atypical features, said botanist Petr Smarda about their significant discovery that he published in the New Phytologist prestigious journal.
The unique ginkgo biloba is similar to the other seedlings, but if differs by the shape of its leaves that have more frayed edges.
Researchers are of the view that it emerged thanks to the changeable autumn weather.
“Ginkgo biloba fruits ripen only on the ground where they are also fertilised. Ground frosts may have influenced an unusual development of the seed in this case,” Smarda said.
The Brno scientists now face another problem. Since ginkgoes are dioecious plants that have separate male and female trees, both trees are needed for seeds and the rise of a new generation. So far there is only one tree of this kind, and this is why it cannot multiply.
The ginkgo biloba tree grows up to 40 metres.
Extracts from its leaves are used in pharmacology. They contain some 60 biologically active substances that are administered in the form of food supplements in the case of memory disorders and the Alzheimer’s disease. The Chinese medicine uses the tree for the treatment of asthma, digestive problems, coughing and senility.
The Brno scientists claim that the newly discovered ginkgo biloba can potentially produce more active substances.