How plants near Chernobyl shrug off radiation

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Washington, Dec 9 (ANI): Scientists studying the ecological legacy of the 1986 nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in Ukraine have discovered as to how plants adapt and even flourish in a highly radioactive environment.

The study helps solve a long-standing mystery.

Martin Hajduch and colleagues noted that plants have an innate ability to adapt to an environment contaminated with radiation.

Their previous research showed that soybean plants in the area have adapted to the contaminated soil with certain changes in their proteome.

A proteome is the full complement of proteins produced by the genes in a plant or animal. But the broader range of biochemical changes in plants that allow them to thrive in this harsh environment remained unclear.

The scientists grew flax seeds in radiation-contaminated soil in the Chernobyl region and compared their growth to those of seeds grown in non-radioactive soil.

They found that radiation exposure had relatively little effect on the protein levels in the plants, with only about five percent of the proteins altered.

Among them were certain proteins involved in cell signaling, or chemical communication, which might help the plants shrug off radioactivity, the scientists suggested.

The study appears in ACS' Environmental Science and Technology. (ANI)

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