New record size for a genome goes to rare plant

11 Oct

A rare plant called Paris japonica has a genome 50 times longer than that of humans, making it the longest genome ever recorded. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew , announced the discovery last week, and details appear in the September 2010 issue of the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society .

The Paris japonica genome weighs in at 152.23 picograms (trillionths of a gram), 15 percent larger than the previously biggest known genome, that of related herb, a hybrid trillium known as Trillium × hagae . "It's so large that when stretched out it would be taller than Big Ben," said Ilia Leitch, a research scientist at Kew's Jodrell Laboratory , in a prepared statement. Human DNA would only stretch out to about two meters. The plant has 150 billion base pairs, compared with humans' 3 billion.