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Researchers Save Oldest Tree in Europe

To preserve the genetic material of an ancient organism, researchers in Great Britain recently took cuttings from a yew tree thought to be about 8,000 years old. They plan to clone the DNA and grow seedlings in arboretums around the country. The yew tree, which is thought to be the oldest in Europe, grows in a cemetery in the village of Fortingall in the Scottish Highlands. It is not only famous for its old age but also for being part of the environment where Pontius Pilate is said to have played as a child. Pilate was raised in a Roman encampment only yards away.

    [Swiss] News 26.2.2000 Genforscher retten geheimnisumwitterte Eiche.


Odors Evoke Musical Tunes

Odors can now be seen and heard. Researchers at the Institute for Neurology of the Freie Universität in Berlin have mapped the olfactory senses of honeybees. Rudolf Menzel and his colleagues have developed a method to watch the brain activity of a honeybee in response to odors. Using optical imaging techniques, musical notes are assigned to individual odors. The researchers hear the notes as a bee flies over and smells different kinds of flowers. They plan to use the same technique to study the olfactory processes in the brain of the fruit fly.

[German] Die Welt, 14.2.2000 Duftnoten lassen Melodien erklingen.


A Special Crop – Wine with a Barley Gene

A special crop is maturing in Germany’s wine cellars. Last fall, genetically modified grapes were harvested for Regent, a dry wine the flavor of cassis. The grapes contain a gene from barley that helps them resist attack by menacing molds. Authorities in neighboring Switzerland say this will never happen in their country: The Swiss government has banned outdoor cultivation of all genetically modified organisms to avoid getting them in the food chain.

    [Swiss] Tagblatt 3.2.2000 Ein besonderes Tröpfchen - Hilfe von der Gerste.

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