The rise of baobab trees in Madagascar. (

These scientists studied baobab trees, which are very special trees with a unique shape that have a close relationship with animals. People have been inspired by these trees for a long time and they are important in many cultures.

The scientists wanted to learn more about the baobab trees, so they looked at the DNA of all eight types of baobab trees that are still around today. They found out that Madagascar, an island, is probably where the baobab trees originally came from.

By studying the DNA and looking at how the trees live in their environment, the scientists figured out that baobab trees have evolved in a special way, where different species mixed together to create the diversity we see now. They also learned that the history of the baobab trees in Madagascar was influenced by things like competition between different species and changes in the land and sea around the island.

The scientists think it's important to protect the baobab trees in Madagascar, especially two species called Adansonia suarezensis and Adansonia grandidieri. They also want to keep a close eye on another species called Adansonia za, because it might be harming a very rare type of baobab tree called Adansonia perrieri.

Wan JN., Wang SW., Leitch AR., Leitch IJ., Jian JB., Wu ZY., Xin HP., Rakotoarinivo M., Onjalalaina GE., Gituru RW., Dai C., Mwachala G., Bai MZ., Zhao CX., Wang HQ., Du SL., Wei N., Hu GW., Chen SC., Chen XY., Wan T., Wang QF. The rise of baobab trees in Madagascar. Nature. 2024 May 15. doi: 10.1038/s41586-024-07447-4.

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