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RE: Plant Ages, Old Organisms

> KAnderson at psg_ucsf.edu wrote:
	> 		How old is the oldest organism?  I know of ~2000
> > old redwoods.  Is there some other organism than is older.  What
> about
> > coral reefs?  What about bacteria?  
	>		I have been told that there are trees (alders?)
	> have interconnected roots and therefore all the trees are one
plant and
	> it is ONE PLANT THAT IS ACERS AND ACERS.  Urban legend?

	The current "oldest organism" is the Bristlecone Pine (Pinus
	in California, one individual ranking in at 4,723 and counting.
	are found to be older than 4,000 years.

	There is some current thought in dendrochronology that some
	clones (many aspen groves are "clones" of a single organism, all
	joined at the root system) may actually be older.  However, that

	means the clone itself is older, not individuals (not single
	These clones (the root system, anyway) seem to be able to span 
	ice ages. 

	Coral reefs are ecosystems, which may live a long time.  "System
	age" is a completely different issue.  Bacterial individuals are
	very short lived, although some spores are viable after being 
	discovered after ~3,000 years or more.  The bacterial colonies
	live a long time, but that's an ecosystem thing depending on 
	sustainment in some balance with other environmental population 

	I think you mean "acres", not "acers".  When I hear "Acer", I
	of "Maple" since that's the species genus.  "Acer saccharum",
	example, is "Sugar Maple".

	Yes, one individual propagating through layering, runners, root
	etc. may easily take up acres.

	For the most part, the candle that burns twice as bright burns
	half as long.  The oldest living things usually have slow 
	metabolisms and short growing seasons, or long cycles.  There 
	was a good thread in this list several years ago on how our 
	neon tetras (Paracheirodon innesi) or any of our fish seemed to 
	live longer if they grew at the lower limits of their
	tolerance (implies colder water, higher 02 availability, and
	lower metabolisms.)

	I'm not ready to make that conclusion for plants, though...
	shorter growing seasons to "add years" to a plant's existence
	seems to be significant only for (real) perenials that handle
	extreme seasonal changes.  That implies an extended diapause
	or "shut-down" mode where little biological activity takes
	This "shut-down" time doesn't really "count" against the
	individual's "lifespan", because being "frozen" for five months
	or ten months is, for the most part, the same thing.  I don't
	see that existing significantly for our mostly herbacious 
	(non-woody) aquatic plants.

	charleyb at cytomation_com