Biologist Richard Dixon from the University of North Texas, based on the results of a study of the ginkgo tree, concluded that this plant does not age in principle. From the point of view of biology, it is practically immortal - a ginkgo can die from external influences, but not from something that becomes decrepit. Today, many specimens are known over 600 years old, a fair number are over 1000 years old, and there are suspicions about the existence of trees over 3000 years old.
Comparing ginkgo between the ages of 20 and 200, scientists found only a decrease in the thickness of the annual rings. The tree slows down its growth, but does not stop it - moreover, in terms of the area of the tree, no decrease occurs at all. And this is clearly seen when comparing very young trees from 10 years old and 600-year-old old-timers.
Dixon, after studying the foliage of the ginkgo, decided to focus on the cambia, the thin layer responsible for the formation of new bark and woody tissue. It is believed that meristems - plant analogs of animal stem cells - are concentrated here, but they are still poorly understood. Dixon's team analyzed the level of hormones in the meristems, the state of genes, and other transcription factors associated with cell death.
They found no difference in performance between young and old ginkgoes, all trees behave the same. And, probably, the plant can maintain this mode of existence for thousands of years, the only thing that it needs is suitable external conditions. On the other hand, ginkgoes are highly vulnerable to disease and stress, which are often the causes of their death. So real immortality is still unlikely for them - there are too many risk factors.