The World’s Largest Genome Found in a Tiny Fern

Scientists have discovered that a certain species of fern has up to 50 times more DNA in its cell nucleus than humans. The plant has even been entered into the Guinness World Records.

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4 min readJun 6, 2024
[Photo: Poyt448 Peter Woodard, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

Tmesipteris oblanceolata is an endemic species of fern that grows in New Caledonia. This is a French overseas territory located in the western part of the Pacific Ocean, in Melanesia, about 1,400 km east of Australia and 1,500 km northwest of New Zealand. New research has shown that this plant has the largest genome of any living organism on our planet.

The largest genome in a small organism

The study was published in the journal “iScience.” It was conducted by scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the Botanical Institute of Barcelona. Last year, the main authors of the study, Dr. Jaume Pellicer and Dr. Oriane Hidalgo, traveled to New Caledonia to collect samples of T. oblanceolata, which were then analyzed to estimate the size of their genomes.

Scientists discovered that each cell of the fern has about 321 billion nucleotide pairs in its nucleus. Each nucleotide consists of a deoxyribose sugar, a phosphate group, and a nitrogenous base. There are…