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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
The plants and the plant
Article Type: News items From: Disaster Prevention and Management, Volume 20, Issue 1
The 1986 accident at Chernobyl in Ukraine was the most serious in nuclear plant history – but apparently it was not so bad in green plant history.
Surprisingly, while the area around the nuclear facility remains heavily contaminated with long-lived isotopes, the ecosystem has adapted to the conditions pretty well, according to a paper published in August in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
“If you visit the area, you’d never think anything bad had happened there,” said Martin Hajduch, one of the study’s authors and a plant geneticist at the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Slovakia, told the New York Times. “Somehow plants were able to adapt to the radioactivity; we wanted to understand what kind of molecule changes were going on.” What they found is that “the proteome of seeds from plants grown in radio-contaminated soil display minor adjustments to multiple signaling pathways.” This means that the flax plants studied altered their protein makeup to create a kind of shield for themselves.
Although the plants themselves are healthy, they aren’t ready to be put in the salad yet. “Now I don’t think anybody wants to eat this,” Hajduch told the Times. “But one day, it may be cultivated and used for agricultural purposes.”
(Natural Hazards Observer, November 2010)