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Because plants do not possess a proper germline, deleterious somatic mutations can be passed to gametes and a large number of cell divisions separating zygote from gamete formation in long-lived plants may lead to many mutations. We sequenced the genome of two terminal branches of a 234-year-old oak tree and found few fixed somatic single-nucleotide variants (SNVs), whose sequential appearance in the tree could be traced along nested sectors of younger branches. Our data suggest that stem cells of shoot meristems are robustly protected from accumulation of mutations in trees.

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