Female partners could save them: Plants which outlasted dinosaurs may get extinct; scientists are trying to find a match

Encephalartos woodii (E. woodii) is a plant from South Africa living on the verge of extinction because of the absence of female plants

Livemint
First Published14 Jun 2024, 02:09 PM IST
Encephalartos woodii (E. woodii) is one of the oldest existing plant on earth
Encephalartos woodii (E. woodii) is one of the oldest existing plant on earth

After outlasting dinousaurs and suriving multiple mass extinctions, Encephalartos woodii, aka E. woodii species of plant is at the verge of extinction because of loneliness. According to a report by ‘The Conversation’, the ancient plant species is facing an existential crisis because of the absence of any female partner. 

About Encephalartos woodii

E. Woodi is a plant species from South Africa. This species is a member of the cycad family. People can easily identify this ancient species with its thick trunks and large stiff leaves appearing like a majestic crown. The wild plant was discovered by a botanist in the expedition in the Ngoye Forest in South Africa. This plant's discovery encouraged the scientist to look for similar plants in the forest, however, none could be found. 

E.Woodii's  story of survival

Just like most of the plants, E. Woodi can only survive by sexual reproduction, which requires male and female species. However, the botanist was able to discover only the male E.Woodi species. As no female plant was found despite multiple forest expeditions, scientists decided to save the species by cultivating stems and offshoots in gardens. Since then, several E.Woodi plants have been cultivated manually. As most of them are clones from the Ngoye specimen, natural reproduction involving a female plant is still impossible, raising questions on the survival of this millions year-old plant.

Scientists search to find a female partner

To save E.Woodi plant from extinction, scientists have started a project to find female species. In her article published in ‘The Conversation’, scientist Laura Cinti, associated with the research project, shared that the research project was inspired “by the dilemma of the lonely plant and the possibility that a female may still be out there”. Explaining the research, Cinti said that the research involves the use of remote sensing technologies and artificial intelligence to find the female species of the plant in the Ngoye Forest.

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First Published:14 Jun 2024, 02:09 PM IST
HomeNewstrendsFemale partners could save them: Plants which outlasted dinosaurs may get extinct; scientists are trying to find a match

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