Researchers at the Khalifa Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology at the United Arab Emirates University have succeeded in deconstructing the entire genome of the national tree – the Ghaf tree – and identifying its structure at the most accurate levels, which is the chromosomal level of the Ghaf tree, which provides a great opportunity for genome researchers of desert trees and food security to complete their research. The research was published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, in cooperation with the University of Georgia and New York University in Abu Dhabi.
Dr. Khalid Al-Amiri, Director of the Khalifa Center for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering and Head of Biology Department at the university, said: “We extend our thanks and appreciation to His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court, for His Highness’ directives and unlimited support to raise the Khalifa Center scientifically.” .
Al-Amiri, the supervisor and principal researcher in the research, indicated that the genes related to endurance of environmental stress and metabolic processes were identified, as well as genes related to the defense response in the case of diseases, insects, and metabolic processes of terpenes (the substance that helps plants to resist environmental stress). and has other uses in the field of drug making), stressing that the biological defense mechanisms are unique compared to other legumes of the same family.
He explained that there is a process of doubling the number of genes that helped this tree to adapt to arid environments, and that the doubling of these genes constitutes the driving force for the adaptation of organisms from different environments, and genes that regulate the salinity resistance mechanism in the Ghaf plant were identified, using gene expression studies, and thus the researchers were able to Khalifa Center to dismantle the mechanisms of resistance to environmental effort. Al-Amiri pointed out that these biological characteristics make the Ghaf plant live in arid areas and withstand the high and low temperatures found in desert areas, as the Ghaf plant has many distinct environmental characteristics, as well as a symbol of local social values, where the Ghaf tree is the national tree of the country. The Emirates, and it represents a symbol of stability and peace in the Emirates.
The Khalifa Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology is the first center to identify the complete genome sequence of the Ghaf plant.
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