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Methuselah, in the White Mountains, can be considered the oldest tree in the world. Round about miraculous 5,000 years and belongs to the species Pinus Longaeva. Other copies amazing carry on foot millennia, which has led scientists to wonder to what extent these creatures are able to fight against aging, and even give you a slip to death.

A recent article that studies the Ginkgo biloba, a living fossil that has barely changed since his emergence makes 270 million years and can reach up to 3,000 years, even discovered that this species could escape to aging, because after hundreds of years of growth, the leaf size, photosynthetic capacity and the quality of the seeds were like those of the young trees. However, in a forum published Monday in the journal “Trends in Plant Science”, the biologist of plants, Sergi Munné-Bosch argues that even though the signs of senescence in the trees of long life can be almost imperceptible to the people, this does not mean they are immortal.

“When we try to study these organisms, we are really surprised that they live so long. But this does not mean that they are immortal”, he stresses, Munné-Bosch, professor of plant physiology and leader of the research group ANTIOX in University of Barcelona. “Live so long because they have many mechanisms to greatly reduce the wear and tear of aging,” he explains.

Stress, physiological

although the methods well-developed trees to prolong the aging process, research has shown that still suffer from physiological stress associated with senescence. “Have limits -Munné-Bosch-, there are physical constraints and mechanical constraints that limit their ability to live indefinitely.”

however, due to the difficulty of conducting research on trees with a lifespan so long, little is known about how the process of senescence. Find enough trees thousands to study because it can be a challenge. “When a species of tree can live for five millennia, it is very difficult to find even two trees that are between two and five millennia,” says Munné-Bosch. For these trees long life, to die of senescence is a possibility, but the likelihood of die for other causes is significantly higher. “They don’t have to worry about by senescence because they have other things to worry about,” he says.

in Addition, due to its useful life to an extreme, the aging process of the trees must be studied at a time scale much greater than what scientists are used to. To see the real time effects of aging on the trees of long life, the scientists would have to conduct studies that will last hundreds, if not thousands, of years: when trees such as the gingko can live for thousands of years, even a body of 667 years of age , although it undoubtedly has a long life, you may not be old enough to see the effects of aging. “The measurement of time is something that we have invented as humans, and to an ancient tree, does not matter at all,” says Munné-Bosch.

The trees have a variety of ways to reduce your chances of death just by aging, from the compartmentalization of risk in structures of complex branches to the “construction of life in death” by the growth of new shoots of logs composed of 90% of biomass is not alive. But in the review, Munné-Bosch argues that despite the fact that the trees of long life can survive for millennia through these methods, the stress associated with aging, although small, finally will prevent immortality. “The time, in some aspects, can be considered as a kind of stress. Living is stressful, and it very slowly leads to death”, he says.

regenerative Medicine

although the trees may not be immortal, and Munné-Bosch says that to study the ways in which prolong senescence is important. The research carried out on trees and species of plants of long life can inform other disciplines, such as medicine, in a variety of ways. “We have much to learn from them,” she says. “For example, aspects of regenerative medicine are based on mechanisms that have already evolved in the trees.” Even though aging is not a universal process, the knowledge that even the oldest species, can’t live forever means that “maybe we are not so different as we thought”, says Munné-Bosch.