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Image by thomas heintz



European City of Science 2022


The tulip is literally and figuratively an icon of the Netherlands. Leiden is the cradle of the tulip in our country. After all, it was Clusius who introduced the tulip to the Netherlands and cultivated it in the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden. The tulip symbolizes growth and flowering, which are largely dependent on the micro-organisms, or biodiversity, in the soil around the bulb. With Leiden being the European City of Science in 2022, one of the aims of this Tulip Mania Leiden event is to draw attention to what kind of research is being done in Leiden on biodiversity in tulips and its importance.
In 2017, scientists from three Dutch organizations BaseClear, Generade, and Dümmen Orange sequenced, or mapped, the genome of the tulip. The genome of the tulip is more than 10 times larger than the human genome and has large repeating pieces. The "cracking" of the tulip's DNA code was done using a special technique, MinION, because traditional sequencing was not possible due to the length and complicated repetition of large pieces of DNA. The tulip genome is the largest genome ever sequenced! Now the DNA code is known, it will help scientists grow better tulips and make them grow faster and more sustainably. In particular, identifying traits making them resistance  against diseases would help reduce the increasing use of chemical pesticides.

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