Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chernobyl plant life endures radioactivity

Soybean plantThe way Pripyat's ecosystem seemed to shrug off the contamination caught the attention of the scientific world and in 2005, the UN even published a report about the phenomenon.Then, in 2007, a group of researchers wearing masks, goggles and gloves decided to investigate just how the plants were able to survive.

They went into the restricted area and planted soybean and flax seeds on a highly contaminated field just a few kilometres from the site of the accident, in the environs of Pripyat.

Then they sowed the same kind of seeds on a control field in the decontaminated region near the city of Chernobyl.

One of the researchers, Martin Hajduch from the Slovak Academy of Sciences, told BBC News that even though previous studies had analysed how genes mutated because of radioactivity, his team wanted to do something different.

They wanted to investigate the molecular mechanisms allowing plants to adapt to such a contaminated environment.

To do that, they waited for the plants to grow and produce new seeds and then examined their proteins.

"We decided to apply a... methodology called 'proteomics' that is capable of identifying hundreds of proteins," said Dr Hajduch.

He explained that proteomics was a study of proteins - vital parts of all living organisms. ...

The scientist noted that there were probably historic reasons why it was a lot easier for plants to get used to living in increased levels of radiation.

"It is just unbelievable how quickly this ecosystem has been able to adapt," he said.

"[There must be] some kind of mechanism that plants already have inside them. Radioactivity has always been present here on Earth, from the very early stages of our planet's formation.

"There was a lot more radioactivity on the surface back then than there is now, so probably when life was evolving, these plants came across radioactivity and they probably developed some mechanism that is now in them." ...

via BBC News - Chernobyl plant life endures radioactivity.


Ann said...

"... endures radioactivity .... shrug off the contamination .... quickly this ecosystem has been able to adapt ..."

This message was paid for by:
thinking of you
for our radioactive tomorrow.

Sam said...

You nailed it, Ann.. definitely fluff. The vegetation is doing well, but that doesn't mean there are no mutations or that the area is in any way safe.

Intrachresodist said...

It means when we foul up the planet beyond all recognition, at least the plant life will survive. However, earth doesn't have enough time left to allow intelligent plants to evolve, so I'm afraid the plants won't be able to escape their own impending destruction. Perhaps earth can be the source of future panspermia though.

Also, you have presented no evidence that the Slovak Academy of Sciences has any special relationship with the nuclear industry. An observation, even a surprising observation that plants adapt well to nuclear contamination is not a pro-nuclear political statement.

Sam said...

Did you guys read "The World Without Us" by Alan Weisman? He addresses nuclear contamination in it, refers to the accidents we've had (including Chernobyl). It was interesting.

Ann said...

So very nice! We don't know each, but, I feel, we are friends! Thank you!

Ann said...

Intrachresodist, no I didn't present any connection between the industry and these investigators. And, I don't know if there is any.

And, maybe "when we foul up the planet beyond all recognition, [which beyond doubt we are doing] at least the plant life will survive." But, this work makes nuclear power, nuclear weapons, etc. look a little like ... you know ... it's not so bad. So go ahead Chernobyl do your stuff (again).

And, Obama, those bunker busters, they're just little bombs. And, those deformed kids in Iraq? There's just a few of them. So, go ahead keep stockpiling for your war with Iran.

Ann said...

Ok, what do we with nuclear wastes? It doesn't seem anyone wants nuclear waste in their backyard. For, decades, literally, the people at Yucca Flat fought both the nuclear industry and government not to store nuclear wastes in presumably one of the safest places to store it. It wasn't until recently, finally, when Obama claimed there will be no storage of nuclear waste at that location. So, nuclear wastes are laying around all over the country in containers and conditions of various levels of safety. Some may be contaminating local environments.

Secondly, even nuclear industry analysts claim nuclear energy will not help global warming. In fact, it will make it worse, because of all the fossil fuel necessary to raise the standards in those countries that need it. Yet, G-8 nations continue to promote it.

Thirdly, when you play or work with fire, someone some where will always get burned, not matter how "safe" the engineering and design. How many people die per year in deep sea oil rigs? How big are the annual spills, on average? How many people will be affected in the next "nuclear accident" one? a million? When you play with fire ...

Fourth, can we dare think beyond petrol and nuclear sources for energy? If all the taxpayers' money that goes into expanding nuclear energy were placed in alternative forms of energy research, don't you think we'd be further along than wind farms?