Making another Methuselah

Tree clone project is more for love than logic.

Leslie Pray(lpray@nasw.org)
Oct 15, 2002

The world's oldest known living tree is the subject of a much-publicized cloning attempt announced last week in California, but even the man trying to copy "Methuselah" admits he's motivated more by fondness for trees than an expectation of scientific discovery.

On October 8, members of the non-profit Champion Tree Project International led a tissue-sampling excursion to an ancient grove amid the dry, desolate peaks of California's White Mountains, where the 4,768-year-old bristlecone pine nicknamed Methuselah still clings to life. That same night the samples were delivered to Christopher Friel, a plant pathology graduate student at the University of California, Davis, who was recruited by the Champion Tree Project to clone Methuselah.

Friel reports that the one-week-old cultures of those samples look good, but told The Scientist that the chances of a successful cloning are extremely slim. "It is generally thought among tissue culturalists that this is a long...

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