NEW YORK (December 13, 2012)--Scientists say they're making progress on a huge project to map the DNA of the Christmas tree.
They’re working on a gene map of the conifer, which is the umbrella term for such trees as the spruce, fir, pine, cypress and cedar.
Scientists want to identify the billions of DNA building blocks in the conifer genetic code, which should help in breeding and forest management.
Cracking that genetic code is a challenge because it's so huge, six times bigger than the code for humans.
But teams in the U.S. and Canada recently reported preliminary results for the loblolly pine and the white spruce and a Swedish team plans to follow suit early next year for the Norway spruce.
David Neale of the University of California at Davis says conifer genetics is "entering the modern era."