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genetic research

In the first year, researchers will develop and publicly release genome sequences using a tree from the pictured Butano State Park for the coast redwood genome and a tree from Sequoia National Park for the giant sequoia genome.

Groundbreaking Project to Map the Redwood Genomes

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The genome sequences and the screening tools developed will allow researchers to quickly assess genetic diversity in redwood forests to inform plans that restore the health and resilience of these forests as they face environmental stressors such as climate change.

Learn more in the inaugural edition of Redwoods magazine.

With your annual membership of $19 or more, you’ll receive a year’s subscription to Redwoods, the new magazine of Save the Redwoods League.

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Emily Burns, PhD, League's former Director of Science, reaches for the captivating cream-colored needles of an albino sprout growing out of a redwood. “It lacks chlorophyll, so it’s white, and it’s caused by a mutation on that particular sprout’s DNA,” she said. Further genomic research could confirm hypotheses that albino sprouts are more than parasites. It’s clear that the deeper we go into the redwood genome, the more we’ll know. Photo by Paolo Vescia

Mapping the Redwood Genomes

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Save the Redwoods League is leading research to fully sequence the coast redwood and giant sequoia genomes — for the first time — utilizing conifer genetic sequencing techniques unavailable until now. By the end of this five-year project, the genome sequences and the screening tools developed will allow researchers to quickly assess genetic diversity in redwood forests to inform management plans that restore the health and resilience of these forests throughout their natural ranges as they face environmental stressors such as climate change.

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The study found that although trees within 5 meters of each other (like these here) were more likely to be clones than trees farther away, they weren’t always. Photo by Jason Hollinger, Flickr Creative Commons

Some Coast Redwoods May Seem to Be Clones, but They’re Not

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If you’ve visited a coast redwood forest, you’ve probably seen these trees growing around the stump of a logged giant. These “fairy rings,” as they’re known informally, show how the coast redwood reproduces asexually by sending new sprouts up from the trunk base of a parent redwood. The mystery was whether these sprouts are genetically identical copies of the parent redwood. Because 95 percent of the current coast redwood range is younger forests, understanding the genetics of the coast redwood is critical for conservation and restoration. Learn more about this research.

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A study confirms that northern giant sequoia groves have lower genetic diversity than central and southern groves. Photo by Bob Wick

Lower Genetic Diversity Puts Giants at Risk

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Recent League-funded research by Richard Dodd, an Environmental Science Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, confirms that northern groves (north of the Kings River drainage) have lower genetic diversity than central and southern groves. This could have profound consequences for long-term conservation strategies for the species, especially considering the changing global climate. Learn more about this research.

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