Contemporary science meets ancient wisdom via redOrbit:
A team of international scientists report today that they have sequenced and annotated the genome of the sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera). The research was co-led by Ray Ming, a plant biology professor at University of Illinois’ Institute for Genomic Biology; Jane Shen-Miller, a plant biology professor at UCLA; and Shaohua Li, director of the Wuhan Botanical Garden at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The team have sequenced nearly 90 percent of the plant’s 27,000 genes.
The sacred lotus has the ability to repair genetic defects, and may hold a key to the secrets of aging; the seeds of the lotus can survive up to 1,300 years. The sacred lotus is known from the geologic record as early as 135 million years ago. The plant has been grown in China for at least the last 4,000 years, and has long been used there for food and medicine.
“Molecular biologists can now more easily study how its genes are turned on and off during times of stress. This is a step toward learning what anti-aging secrets the sacred lotus plant may offer,” said Shen-Miller.
The plant’s genetic repair mechanisms could be very useful if researchers could find a way to transfer them to crops that have seeds that generally only have life spans of a few years. They could even prove significant if transferable to human health.