Researchers in Australia hope that sequencing the Wollemi pine tree will help them protect it from extinction, Australia's ABC News reports.
It adds that Wollemi pine trees have been around since the time of the dinosaurs, but their numbers have dwindled to 140 plants in the wild — researchers had even thought it was extinct before finding living samples in a small region northwest of Sydney. ABC News notes that their exact location is kept secret, as a means to protect the trees.
Researchers from National Herbarium of New South Wales and Deakin University are working to sequence Wollemi pine tree genome to determine whether it has the genetic wherewithal to withstand disease or damage and if that has contributed to its decline. "We'll have a better understanding of how to manage it on site, but also how to translocate it into a new location, if that's what we decide to do in the future," Maurizio Rossetto from the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney tells ABC News.