Scientists Cultivate a Long-Lost Legendary Roman Fruit Tree from 2,000-Year-Old Seeds

By: | February 12th, 2020

Image courtesy: (Guy Eisner)

In a big breakthrough, scientists have cultivated plants from date palm seeds that are over 2,000 years old, dating back to ancient Roman times.

By using modern technology, scientists were reportedly able to cultivate date palm trees. Their names are Adam, Jonah, Uriel, Boaz, Judith, and Hannah. Although they were all planted in recent years, but the seeds were gathered from Judean archaeological sites.

The seeds are thought to be the oldest ever grown naturally and shed light on their vanished lineage.

These date palm plants are now all growing in the southern Israeli community of Ketura. For growing these plants, researchers soaked 33 recovered ancient seeds in water for a day. For encouraging rooting researchers treated these seeds with hormones and organic fertilizer.

After this process, one more was found to be damaged, and was subsequently discarded; they planted remaining 32 seeds in potting soil. To water them researchers used desalinated water enriched with iron and fertilizer.

Scientists hope those famous dates may make a comeback.

“As new information on specific gene-associated traits (e.g., fruit colour and texture) is found, we hope to reconstruct the phenotypes of this historic date palm, identify genomic regions associated with selection pressures over recent evolutionary history, and study the properties of dates produced by using ancient male seedlings to pollinate ancient females,” the researchers wrote.

“In doing so, we will more fully understand the genetics and physiology of the ancient Judean date palm once cultivated in this region.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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