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科学家们从2000年前的种子中复活了古树

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2020年02月13日

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Scientists Revive Ancient Trees From 2.000-Year-Old Seeds

科学家们从2000年前的种子中复活了古树

The world's most remarkable date palm trees might not exist if Sarah Sallon hadn't gotten sick while working as a doctor in India in 1986.

如果萨拉·萨伦1986年在印度当医生时没有生病,世界上最引人注目的枣棕榈树可能就不会存在。

Antibiotics didn't help. What cured here, she thinks, were some traditional herbal remedies.

抗生素也没什么用。她认为,在这里治愈的是一些传统的草药疗法。

科学家们从2000年前的种子中复活了古树

"It was just amazing. It was so incredible," she says. "And then I got very interested. There's nothing like a doctor cured of their problem to get them interested in something."

“太神奇了。太不可思议了,”她说。然后我变得非常感兴趣。没有什么比医生治好他们的病更能让他们对某件事感兴趣了。”

When she moved back home to Israel, to her job at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, she went looking for medicinal plants there. And she found lots of them. But she also heard about ancient medicinal plants that had disappeared.

当她回到以色列的家,在耶路撒冷的哈达萨医疗中心工作时,她去那里寻找药用植物。她发现了很多。但她也听说了一些已经消失的古代药用植物。

"They're just historical ghosts," she says. "Like the famous date plantations along the Dead Sea, 2.000 years ago — described by Pliny. They're not there anymore. They just vanished!"

“他们只是历史上的幽灵,”她说。“就像2000年前死海沿岸著名的枣棕榈树种植园--由普林尼描述。它们已经不在那里了。它们就这么消失了!”

Sallon realized, though, that seeds from those trees still existed. They'd been recovered from archaeological sites. So she went to the archaeologists and proposed planting some of those seeds, to see if they'd grow again. It didn't go well at first. "They thought I was mad!" she says. "They didn't think that this was even conceivable."

然而,萨伦意识到,那些树上的种子仍然存在。它们是从考古遗址找到的。所以她去找考古学家,提议种植一些这些种子,看看它们是否会再次生长。一开始并不顺利。“他们认为我疯了!”她说。“他们甚至认为这是不可想象的。”

But she kept pushing, and eventually persuaded a few of them to provide some seeds to try this with. More than a decade ago, she and Elaine Solowey, a researcher at the Arava Institute of Environmental Studies, planted some of these ancient palm seeds. "Six weeks later, little green shoots appeared!" she says.

但她一直在努力,最终说服了其中的几个人提供一些种子来试验这一点。十多年前,她和阿拉瓦环境研究所的研究员伊莱恩·索洛维种植了一些这种古老的棕榈籽。“六个星期后,小萌芽出现了!”她说。

One tree grew. They named it Methuselah. But Methuselah had a problem. Date trees are a little unusual. They're either male or female; each tree makes either pollen or fertile flowers. But it takes both to produce fruit.

一棵树长出来了。他们给它起名叫玛土撒拉。但是玛土撒拉有个问题。枣棕榈树有点不寻常。它们要么是雄的,要么是雌的;每棵树要么开花粉,要么开可育的花。但两者都需要才能结出果实。

科学家们从2000年前的种子中复活了古树

This week, in the journal Science Advances, Sallon and her colleagues announced that they'd grown another six trees from some of these ancient seeds. Two of them are female. "You could say that we found Methuselah a wife," she says, laughing.

本周,在《科学进展》杂志上,萨伦和她的同事宣布他们已经用这些古老的种子种出了另外六棵树。其中两名是雌性。“你可以说我们找到了玛士撒拉(树的名字)的妻子,”她笑着说。

The female trees haven't flowered yet, but Sallon is hoping that it might happen this year. If one of them does, researchers will take pollen from Methuselah, fertilize those flowers, and wait for fruit to form.

雌树还没有开花,但萨伦希望今年能开花。如果其中一种方法有效,研究人员将从玛士撒拉获取花粉,使这些花受精,然后等待果实的形成。

When Sallon talks about this possibility, her voice fills with wonder and expectation. According to ancient writers, she says, these dates "were known for their wonderful sweetness, their very large size, and their ability to be stored for a long time, so they actually were exported around the Roman empire."

当萨伦谈到这种可能性时,她的声音充满了惊讶和期待。她说,根据古代作家的说法,这些枣“以其美妙的甜度、巨大的体积和可长期储存的能力而闻名,所以它们实际上出口到了罗马帝国各地。”


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