Fossil evidence exists for the presence of the Ginkgo tree 270 million years ago, in the Permian period. This makes it one of longest surviving organisms on planet Earth. Chinese geneticists have decoded its astonishing genome, with over 40,000 probable genes – nearly twice the size of the human genome. Some of these genes determine very special characteristics, which will interest scientists. The ginkgo has a remarkable ability to deter insect, fungal and bacterial pests. It can even secrete chemicals which attract other organisms which will help rid the ginkgo of its pests.