Siberian flowers from Ice Age fruit


This campion plant grew from a 32,000-year-old fruit. Photo AP/Institute of Biophysics of the Russian Academy of Sciences

From DISCOVER Magazine:

After 32,000 Years, an Ice Age Flower Blooms Again


Permafrost is like nature’s freezer.

by Eric A. Powell

Deep in the frozen tundra of northeastern Siberia, a squirrel buried fruits some 32,000 years ago from a plant that bore white flowers. This winter a team of Russian scientists announced that they had unearthed the fruit and brought tissue from it back to life. The fruits are about 30,000 years older than the Israeli date palm seed that previously held the record as the oldest tissue to give life to healthy plants.

The researchers were studying ancient soil composition in an exposed Siberian riverbank in 1995 when they discovered the first of 70 fossilized Ice Age squirrel burrows, some of which stored up to 800,000 seeds and fruits. Permafrost had preserved tissue from one species—a narrow-leafed campion plant—exceptionally well, so researchers at the Russian Academy of Sciences recently decided to culture the cells to see if they would grow. Team leader Svetlana Yashina re-created Siberian conditions in the lab and watched as the refrigerated tissue sprouted buds that developed into 36 flowering plants within weeks.

This summer Yashina’s team plans to revisit the tundra to search for even older burrows and seeds.

The flowering plant of this article is Silene stenophylla.

See also here. And here.

6 thoughts on “Siberian flowers from Ice Age fruit

  1. Mammoth hopes after Siberian discovery

    7:52 AM Wednesday Sep 12, 2012

    Scientists have discovered well-preserved frozen woolly mammoth fragments deep in Siberia that may contain living cells, edging a tad closer to the “Jurassic Park” possibility of cloning a prehistoric animal, the mission’s organizer said Tuesday (local time).

    Russia’s North-Eastern Federal University said an international team of researchers had discovered mammoth hair, soft tissues and bone marrow some 100 metres underground during a summer expedition in the northeastern province of Yakutia.

    Expedition chief Semyon Grigoryev said Korean scientists with the team had set a goal of finding living cells in the hope of cloning a mammoth. Scientists have previously found bones and fragments but not living cells.

    Grigoryev told the online newspaper Vzglyad it would take months of research to determine whether they have indeed found the cells.

    “Only after thorough laboratory research will it be known whether these are living cells or not,” he said, adding that would take until the end of the year at the earliest.

    Wooly mammoths are thought to have died out around 10,000 years ago, although scientists think small groups of them lived longer in Alaska and on Russia’s Wrangel Island off the Siberian coast.

    Scientists already have deciphered much of the genetic code of the woolly mammoth from balls of mammoth hair found frozen in the Siberian permafrost. Some believe it’s possible to recreate the prehistoric animal if they find living cells in the permafrost.

    Those who succeed in recreating an extinct animal could claim a “Jurassic Park prize,” the concept of which is being developed by the X Prize Foundation that awarded a 2004 prize for the first private spacecraft.

    -AP

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  2. Pingback: Mammoths extinct because of lack of flowers? | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Frozen cave lion cubs discovery in Siberia | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Neanderthals ate plants as well | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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