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Hippocrates’ ancient tree genetically ‘fingerprinted’


London, April 30

How would have Hippocrates reacted after seeing a DNA project that has identified the genetic fingerprint of the tree that served as one of medicine’s earliest classrooms under his tutelage?

Researchers from Smithsonian’s Laboratories of Analytical Biology have identified the 2,400-years-old tree’s genetic fingerprint – or DNA barcode.

( source: kos.gr)
( source: kos.gr)

“I think Hippocrates would have been very excited about how DNA comparison and other modern methods are being used to better understand and ultimately treat human disease,” D. David Lipman, director of the National Library of Medicine’s national centre for biotechnology information, was quoted as saying in a BBC report.

An ancient Greek physician and is considered the father of western medicine, Hippocrates reportedly sat down with his pupils under the tree in Kos, Greece.

The original tree died hundreds of years ago, but in its place, a tree was planted in 1776 that is thought to be a descendant of the original tree.

Cuttings from this descendant have been presented as gifts to libraries, colleges and medical institutions around the world.

One of these cuttings was planted at the National Library of Medicine near Washington, DC that has been used by researchers, the report added.

The effort was part of the Barcode of Life Project, BBC reported.