The secret of immortality could lie in the genetics of a plant

Over the centuries, people have tried many methods to extend life. Today the average age has doubled and even tripled since the Middle Ages. However, they suspect that the secret of immortality is to be found in the plant that does not die.

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The secret of immortality lies in the Welwitschia mirabilis

Scientists suspect that immortality is related to a plant that lives in the Namibian desert in Africa. There are specimens of this plant that date back to the Iron Age and are still in good health today. Scientific studies claim that it is immortal.

The Namibian desert stretches from the west coast of the country to the Republic of South Africa and the coast of Angola. The conditions in this desert are extreme, with less than two inches of rain per year and very high temperatures.

The scientific name is Welwitschia Mirabilis, but in Angola and Namibia it is known as Tweeblaaranniedood. In the native language it means “two leaves that never die”. Nothing more precise to describe this plant. They are two leaves that have been growing steadily for thousands of years.

Some details of the Welwitschia Mirabilis plant

It only occurs in South Africa, and some are between a thousand and two thousand years old and are still growing. There are also other specimens of the plant of this species, which are the largest found and are more than 3,000 years old.

Some plants only develop one leaf. It was discovered in 1860 by the botanist Friedrich Welwitsch, from whom it derives its name. From that moment on, it fascinated scientists by the extreme longevity that the species achieves.

A study was recently published in the journal Nature Communications that revealed its secret. According to botanists, the plant doubled its genome due to an error in cell division more than 80 million years ago. The stress caused by the extreme conditions of the desert makes this reproduction in the genome possible.

The duplicated genes can provide the plant with new functions. But having more genes takes more effort to survive in extreme conditions. With this information, scientists wondered how it is possible to live so much in these conditions.


According to the studies carried out, the plant made genetic adaptations in the distant past. The leaf grows at its base and dries up at the top. The constant growth provides the plant with new cells all the time.

Scientists are studying the properties of the plant to improve edible vegetables. Its long lifespan and adaptability to the most extreme conditions make it a very important specimen for botany and science.

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