Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Biotech Science

Russian Scientists Revive Plant From 30,000-Year-Old Seeds 162

An anonymous reader writes "It was an Ice Age squirrel's treasure chamber, a burrow containing fruit and seeds that had been stuck in the Siberian permafrost for over 30,000 years. From the fruit tissues, a team of Russian scientists managed to resurrect an entire plant in a pioneering experiment that paves the way for the revival of other species. The Silene stenophylla is the oldest plant ever to be regenerated, the researchers said, and it is fertile, producing white flowers and viable seeds. ... 'The squirrels dug the frozen ground to build their burrows, which are about the size of a soccer ball, putting in hay first and then animal fur for a perfect storage chamber,' said Stanislav Gubin, one of the authors of the study, who spent years rummaging through the area for squirrel burrows. 'It's a natural cryobank.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Russian Scientists Revive Plant From 30,000-Year-Old Seeds

Comments Filter:
  • by xaxa ( 988988 ) on Monday February 20, 2012 @07:45PM (#39105107)

    Am I missing some major potential social or environmental benefit to doing this?

    It proves that it's possible to grow plants from long-frozen seeds, so shows its worth preserving (freezing) seeds just in case something really bad happens to the living plants. (This has already happened, where species have been wiped out in the wild by mining and forestry, then reintroduced once the companies have left.)

    The techniques might be useful for other, more recently extincted (?) species.

    And it's challenging and interesting, that is reason enough.

  • Re:I saw this movie (Score:5, Informative)

    by Samantha Wright ( 1324923 ) on Monday February 20, 2012 @07:51PM (#39105171) Homepage Journal

    For the curious, pretty much all plants carry out some degree of chemical warfare between each other and other organisms—from the obvious, like plant seeds full of cyanides, to more subtle things, like conifers acidifying the soil around them with their needles and roots to prevent anything else from growing (and much more subtle things still.) I don't know quite enough about Siberia thirty thousand years ago to make a good statement, but I would guess that it was a little more temperate than it currently is; in that case, it's probable that the plants from that era were chemically more aggressive, as the the availability of resources and the richness of the soil would have been higher.

    Then again, one need only take this particular species further south to find out that it might very well be about average for the present day. Unfortunately there isn't enough historical expression information about plants to make a guess at the inflation rate (or deflation rate) over the long-term for plant toxicity in different ecosystems... but it could make a neat thesis topic.

  • Re:I saw this movie (Score:5, Informative)

    by gregg ( 42218 ) on Monday February 20, 2012 @08:01PM (#39105257)

    The only movie I can think of is "Little Shop of Horrors", but I don't think that was quite the violent-plant image you had in mind...

    It could be The Day of the Triffids [wikipedia.org]. Nothing is scarier than malevolent celery.

  • by Jiro ( 131519 ) on Monday February 20, 2012 @08:05PM (#39105293)

    If you read the article, which a lot of people on Slashdot don't do, a lot of scientists are skeptical, but even if the Russians did exactly what they said they did, they didn't grow the plants from seeds in the normal sense. They basically cloned the plants, growing them from cells in the seeds--if only a few cells are alive, they could be cloned but it probably wouldn't be enough for the seeds to sprout.

  • by c0lo ( 1497653 ) on Monday February 20, 2012 @08:16PM (#39105373)

    .. revived plants kill you!

    FTFY. From the second FA:

    Tragedy has now struck the Russian team. Dr. Gilichinksy, its leader, was hospitalized with an asthma attack and unable to respond to questions, his daughter Yana said on Friday. On Saturday, Dr. Price reported that Dr. Gilichinsky had died of a heart attack.

  • Re:I saw this movie (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fjandr ( 66656 ) on Monday February 20, 2012 @09:32PM (#39105921) Homepage Journal

    Actually, the particular species in question is still alive today. It didn't "fail" anything...

  • by Fjandr ( 66656 ) on Monday February 20, 2012 @09:34PM (#39105931) Homepage Journal

    Something a lot of people seem to be missing: this is not an extinct species. These are seeds from a plant that is still alive and growing wild in Siberia to this very day.

  • by HarrySquatter ( 1698416 ) on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:34PM (#39106577)

    No you're way more than a zero off. Homo Erectus originated nearly 2 million years ago. So even if it had been 300,000 rather than 30,000 you're still nearly an order of magnitude off from being even remotely right.

  • by Michael Woodhams ( 112247 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @12:52AM (#39106971) Journal

    Calm down, it is just a plant. There is no reason to expect it to be more dangerous than any one of millions of other plant species which are currently not taking over the world. It was around 30,000 years ago, and spectacularly failed to take over the world back then when it had the chance. The article notes that there is a very similar species (Silene stenophylla) which is around today, also not taking over the world.

  • by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <jwsmythe@jwsmy[ ].com ['the' in gap]> on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @01:26AM (#39107151) Homepage Journal

        But... how did it taste? :)

        Actually, Wikipedia indicates [wikipedia.org] that was a dubious claim by a con man.

        The reference is dead, but you can get it it via archive.org here [archive.org]

  • by Intropy ( 2009018 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @03:04AM (#39107527)

    And that's just going back to erectus. Everything in Homo is definitely "human" and habilis is at least 2.3 million years ago with no reason to believe it's the earliest. But even that is a bit stingy for my taste. I think it's fair to consider anything in Hominina to be human. How long ago Hominina arose is unclear, but there is some evidence for an age of at least 7 million years and other evidence that it cannot exceed about 5.5 million years.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger