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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Scientists to clone Bodhi tree

GAYA: Worried over the health of the Bodhi tree, Bodh Gaya temple authorities have quietly prepared a plan to preserve the sacred tree, which grew from the banyan tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment more than 2,500 years ago.

The cloning will be done in a laboratory to preserve its origin. The Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee, which looks after the temple, a Unesco World Heritage site, fears that the tree may collapse because of diseases or natural causes.

The plan is part of an agreement signed between the temple committee and Forest Research Institute (FRI), Dehradun, three months ago. According to the agreement, FRI scientists will do a ‘virtual modelling’ using cells of the existing tree through a DNA finger printing exercise. The scientists have also been asked to conduct a health check-up of the tree every six months.

The tree is one of the most important icons of Buddhism. A large number of foreign tourists visit Bodh Gaya to get a glimpse of the tree.

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