China scientists clone 5,000-year-old cypress

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A 5,000-year-old cypress tree said to have been planted by Huangdi, the "Yellow Emperor" considered the common ancestor of all Chinese, has been cloned, scientists said last week.

Created using asexual reproduction methods such as cuttage and grafting, eight saplings of the ancient cypress tree are growing well, said Jiang Zeping, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Forestry.

The baby trees were moved from nutrition cups to bigger pots for growth in a greenhouse on Jan. 8, said Jiang.

The project started in April 2013 when scientists from the academy obtained samples and cultured more than 1,500 clones.

Aging means declining function and the ancient cypress is now in danger, said Peng Hong, deputy head of the Forestry Department of northwest China's Shaanxi Province. "It is urgent and important to preserve good genes of millennial cypress trees," said Peng.

Due to the exceedingly high age of the cypress, the cloning project encountered many difficulties, including a rooting rate of less than one percent, said Jiang.

"Luckily, we have been successful and a second clone can be made from the saplings after three to five years," said Jiang.

The project is of great significance in conservation of genetic resources and protecting ancient rare trees. The Mausoleum of Huangdi is in Huangling County, Shaanxi. The area boast many well-preserved ancient cypress groves, with more than 30,000 trees aged 1,000 years or more.

The 5,000-old cypress tree, 20 meters high is in Xuanyuan Temple near the mausoleum.

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