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Scientists create puzzle to help Britain's ash trees

Scientists have created a puzzle that may help engineer a tree immune to ash dieback disease which is ravaging Britain's ash tree population.

The puzzle represents the genes of an ash tree and players have to find patterns.

Experts say they can use the information to identify the genes that might cause resistance and engineer a tree that is immune to the disease.

ITV News' Ben Chapman reports:

Scientists hope disease-busting video game will go viral

Scientists have teamed up with a games developer to build a Facebook puzzle to help identify genes that are resistant to ash dieback - a disease that is ravaging Britain's ash tree population.

Researchers have found that certain trees seem to be naturally immune from the disease, and are hoping to use these natural survivors to grow resistant forests in the future.

How the new Facebook game - Fraxinus - looks Credit: Facebook / Fraxinus

The puzzle, which resembles the popular video game Bejeweled, involves players matching rows of coloured leaves.

Dr Dan MacLean, who came up with the idea, says the leaves represent genetic information and that humans are far better than computers at spotting patterns.

The developers describe the game, called Fraxinus, as "a game of competitive pattern sequencing with a real world twist".

Fraxinus was launched today and you can play it here