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2,000-year-old palm seed germinates
Last Updated Mon, 13 Jun 2005 11:12:18 EDT
copied from: CBC News
Israeli scientists say they've succeeded in growing a sapling from what's believed to be the oldest seed ever germinated – a date palm seed 2,000 years old.
One of the scientists leading the project said she hopes the ancient DNA from the seed will reveal medicinal secrets that have disappeared from the modern plant.
Sarah Sallon, of the Louis Borick Natural Medicine Research Centre in Jerusalem, said on the weekend that her team used seeds from archeological excavations at Masada, the ancient fortress where Jewish rebels committed mass suicide rather than be captured by the Romans in AD 73.
Researchers have named the plant Methuselah after the biblical character said to have lived for nearly a millennium.
The palm is now 30 centimetres tall, with leaves much longer than the modern date leaf.
Sallon and her colleagues sent a leaf for DNA testing, which may reveal clues to the tree's ancient medical applications.
DNA results are expected in the coming weeks.
"Dates were highly medicinal. They had an enormous amount of use in ancient times for infections, for tumours," Sallon told the Associated Press. "We're researching medicinal plants for all we're worth. We think that ancient medicines of the past can be the medicines of the future."
The date palms that grow in Israel today are from a strain originating in Iraq, but were imported from California.
Sallon said that before Methuselah, the oldest seed to have been germinated was a 1,200-year-old lotus seed from China.