Recent research has uncovered an astonishing finding about a small fern called Tmesipteris oblanceolata (pronounced: teh-meh-SIP-teh-ris ob-lan-see-oh-LAH-tuh), found in New Caledonia. This plant has the largest genome of any living thing. A genome is like a set of instructions inside the plant’s cells. Surprisingly, it is even larger than that of the previous record-holder, a plant from Japan called Paris japonica. In fact, if one stretched out the fern’s DNA, it would reach almost 350 feet, taller than famous landmarks like the Statue of Liberty. Despite being only about 10-15 centimeters tall, this fern has a genome that has left scientists puzzled. They believe it might be because the plant cannot get rid of parts of its DNA that it does not need.

The study about this fascinating fern was published in a science journal called iScience. It discusses what having such a big genome means for the plant. Having a large genome requires a lot of resources, such as energy and nutrients, for the plant’s cells to copy and fix its DNA. This can affect how the plant grows, reproduces, and deals with stress. Also, because the cells have to be larger to hold all this genetic material, the plant’s growth might be slower. This raises questions about why some plants and animals have large genomes while others do not. Researchers are studying different organisms to find out more about how genome size affects life on Earth.