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Scientists may have discovered how trees live healthily for centuries

When we age, our genes slowly accumulate mutations — that's part of how we get cancer and other age-related defects. Researchers from the University of Lausanne have found that some trees, which can live for centuries, have very few mutations.

Why it matters: This research suggests that trees have some way of protecting their cells from mutations, which could keep them healthy for centuries, and could conceivably be exploited in breeding.

How they did it: When they compared the genetic makeup of the leaves from the bottom of a 234-year-old oak to the leaves at the top, they did not see nearly as many changes as expected, given the tree's old age. The study was posted on bioRxiv, and has not yet been peer reviewed.