The genome of the common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) has been sequenced for the first time – an important step in the battle against ash dieback disease.
Researchers, writing in Nature, found UK ash trees seemed to have more tolerance than Danish trees, which were devastated by the fungal pathogen.
The disease reached the UK’s wider environment in October 2012.
However, the scientists warned that the species faced another serious threat – the emerald ash borer insect.
“We sequenced an ash genome for the first time and… compared it to other plant genomes and we found that a quarter of the genes were unique,” explained co-author Richard Buggs from the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at the Queen Mary University of London.