We have several holiday traditions at my house, which include baking cookies, decorating the house, and of course the tree. I have a love-hate relationship with my Christmas tree every year. Not a holiday season goes by without me cursing the tree and its insidious needles throughout the house. Oh, and don’t forget the ornaments that the dog just can’t keep out of her mouth. But the smell of the tree is all I need to get in the holiday spirit!

Interestingly enough, the Spruce, a very common Christmas tree species, has seven times more DNA than a human. How is that, you say?  They are but simple trees, and we are complex animals with skills and intellect beyond compare! Well, you may not say that, but my students do! I shared that little gem with my class today, and they were shocked.

It turns out that all conifers like the Spruce, have 12 chromosomes (humans have 46), but they are really big. Scientists aren’t sure why this is so, but some speculate that this large amount of DNA may be how they have been such a successful plant, surviving for millions of years. There are several plant species that have way more DNA than we do, which brings to light the questions: Does more DNA make an organism more complex? Could a plant be more complex than a human? I suppose that depends on who you ask.

What I do know is that I love my Christmas tree, and all 12 of its giant chromosomes!

To read more about the Spruce geneome project in Sweden, go to: http://www.innovations-report.com/html/reports/agricultural_sciences/christmas_tree_times_dna_time_map_145376.html