Madrid rushes to clone precious oaks downed by snowstorm
By Silvio Castellanos and Michael Gore MADRID (Reuters) - After the worst snowstorm in decades damaged half a million of Madrid's trees, a specialist arboreal rescue team is swooping in to clone some of the most valuable specimens, creating genetically identical copies for future generations to enjoy.
By Silvio Castellanos and Michael Gore
MADRID (Reuters) - After the worst snowstorm in decades damaged half a million of Madrid's trees, a specialist arboreal rescue team is swooping in to clone some of the most valuable specimens, creating genetically identical copies for future generations to enjoy.
Storm Filomena crashed through central Spain in early January, cutting off transport links to the capital and causing hundreds of millions of euros of damage.
"It's the biggest environmental catastrophe of recent years," said Francisco Molina, head of agroforestry at Madrid's IMIDRA rural development institute. "There's been an unprecedented loss of natural heritage."
Pruning saw in hand, he clambers under a 100-year old cork oak in the suburb of Las Rozas, which collapsed under several tonnes of snow. After chopping off a long bough, he painstakingly strips away any smaller twigs and cuts it into regular 20cm sections to be bundled up and sent to the lab.
IMIDRA has been cataloguing and cloning Madrid's noteworthy trees for 10 years, but after Filomena the agency offered help replacing trees with sentimental value.
So far they have received requests from 30 local authorities to clone more than 100 species, including corks and holm oaks.
Emblematic of the Spanish interior, the evergreen oaks sustain the country's famed acorn-fed pigs, but their broad leaves make them highly vulnerable to heavy snow.
Complicating the cloning effort, they are incapable of reproducing via a simple transplant, forcing the team to adopt a more complex approach known as somatic embryogenesis - the plant equivalent of in-vitro fertilisation.
The samples are scrubbed with a stiff brush, bathed in fungicide and bleach, then placed in a substrate to encourage fresh leaflets to grow.
"What we are trying to do is to induce acorn seeds to form from these leaves," said IMIDRA researcher Inmaculada Hernandez.
It will take decades to replace the losses, but Molina believes it is worthwhile to preserve the genes of trees that have withstood a century of climate change, blight and insect attacks.
"When we suffer the tragedy of losing one we come running," he said.
(Reporting by Silvio Castellanos, Michael Gore and Juan Medina; Additional reporting and writing by Nathan Allen; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Raissa Kasolowsky)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
Subscribe to Moneycontrol Pro at ₹499 for the first year. Use code PRO499. Limited period offer. *T&C apply
By Christoph Steitz, Tom Käckenhoff and Arno Schuetze FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German conglomerate Thyssenkrupp ended talks to sell its steel division to Britain's Liberty Steel due to differences over value, the latest setback in efforts to consolidate the European sector. Liberty Steel, led by commodities tycoon Sanjeev Gupta, last month submitted a firmed-up non-binding bid for Thyssenkrupp's steel unit, Europe's second biggest in terms of sales, which sources said included commitments to protect jobs and sites.
(Reuters) - Reddit trading lingo may filter in to Washington on Thursday when top hedge fund managers, the head of Robinhood and Roaring Kitty himself are set to give testimony before U.S. House of Representatives lawmakers.
By Stephanie Kelly NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices steadied on Thursday, with Brent edging back from a 13-month high, after a sharp drop in U.S. crude inventories supported prices, while buying spurred by a cold snap in the largest U.S. energy-producing state petered out.