It was there during the Civil War and has lived
through the invention of the automobile and the airplane, but on
Wednesday, Augusta State University's Arsenal Oak was witness to a
historic event that could help it survive even longer - its cloning.
Two University of Georgia professors visited Augusta State on
Wednesday to begin a process of cloning that they hope will preserve
the tree, which is battling a deadly disease called hypoxylon for
"It's beautiful," said Hazel Wetzstein, of the Department of
Horticulture at UGA, after seeing the oak.
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is estimated to be 250 to 400 years old and is considered the oldest
white oak in the Augusta area. It also is the official symbol for
Augusta State. On Wednesday, Dr. Wetzstein and Scott Merkle, of the
forest resources department, took a few clippings from the tree to
obtain bud samples, which were only slightly larger than grains of
"See these nice little buds here," said Dr. Wetzstein, examining
one of the clippings. "What we'll try to do is sterilize this."
She said the clippings would be taken to her UGA lab, and buds
would be placed into a test tube or baby food jar. They will be
sterilized to prevent bacteria or fungi from growing during the
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