This project is the first time that the date palm genome has been studied so comprehensively. Dr. Ikram Blilou, Associate Professor of Plant Science at King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) and her research team in Saudi Arabia have collected samples from date palms by the Quba mosque in Madinah, some of the most ancient date palms in the world.
"The date palm is one of the few fruit trees that, remarkably, can grow in the desert, a habitat with an arid climate where extreme temperature changes and drought conditions limit plant growth.
"Within KAUST's Center for Desert Agriculture Research we are studying date palms using advanced genome sequencing techniques and have begun to develop new breeding strategies to help palms grow faster and healthier as well as making them more resistant to pathogens and pests like the red palm weevil," says Dr. Blilou.
Image: Dr. Ikram Blilou, Professor of Plant Science at King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) with members of her research team collect date palm samples from the historical farm Al Dabeta by the Quba mosque in Madinah, the oldest mosque in the world.