NEW YORK (AP) - Scientists say they're making progress on a huge project: mapping the DNA of the Christmas tree.

We're talking about the conifer, which is the umbrella term for trees like the spruce, fir, pine, cypress and cedar. Scientists want to identify the billions of DNA building blocks in the conifer genetic code. That should help in breeding and forest management.

Cracking that genetic code is a challenge because it's so huge - six times bigger than the code for humans. But teams in the U.S. and Canada recently reported preliminary results for the loblolly pine and the white spruce. And a Swedish team plans to follow suit early next year for the Norway spruce.

David Neale of the University of California at Davis says conifer genetics is "entering the modern era."

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