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The Research Team Led by Professor He Yikuan of Our University Has Published Research Achievements in the international journal Cell

On August 9, the internationally renowned academic journal Cell published an online paper entitled Adaptive Evolution of the Enigmatic Takakia Now Facing Climate Change in Tibet, revealing the survival rules of takakia, known as living plant fossil, on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. This is the research achievement obtained by the research team led by Professor He Yikuan of our university after nearly 20 years of continuous observation in the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau at an altitude of 4,000 meters, combined with in-depth laboratory analysis. The first author affiliation of the paper is Capital Normal University, and the first authors are Professor He Yikun, Dr. Hu Ruoyang and Professor Li Xuedong from Capital Normal University. He Yikun and Ralf Reski from the University of Freiburg in Germany are the corresponding authors.

The research team used takakia as research material and conducted a relatively comprehensive and in-depth analysis of the genome and population dynamics of takakia, providing a new research paradigm. The team found that there was almost no observable effect on the structural integrity of the takakia plants and cells after intense UV radiation. The team completed the "de novo whole genome sequence" determination of the takakia, and found through genome research that the takakia is very active at the genetic level, with the highest number of positive selection of rapid evolution genes, thus being able to quickly adapt to rapidly changing living environment. The study found that the extensive genome of the takakia evolved selectively over several generations, excelling at repairing broken DNA and UV damage.

In order to explore scientific issues such as the survival status and process of genetic adaptation and evolution of takakia on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in the context of global climate change, the team led by He Yikun has established 68 experimental quadrates since 2005 and installed field meteorological workstations, and automatic camera recorders. The recorded results show that the bryophytes in 68 quadrats were covered by snow for about 8 months. The most dramatic temperature rise on record (2010-2021) caused a decrease in takakia population coverage, and the ice tongue of the Gavalon east glacier near the experimental site retreated by 49 ± 3 meters per year during the same period.

Although takakia has successfully adapted to environmental changes and has survived on the earth for 390 million years, it is still in danger of extinction. In fact, in the course of the team's research, it was found that takakia is rapidly decreasing at a rate of 1.6% per year, and there are only 1000-1500 square kilometers of suitable areas for takakia growth all over the world. Without intervention, scientists predict that takakia will disappear in 100 years. In order to expand the propagation of takakia populations on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the team adopted tissue culture technology to rapidly propagate takakia in the laboratory and transplanted it to the experimental base on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. After more than 5 years of observation, the team has seen satisfactory preliminary results in the normal growth of the artificial new population.