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

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  • Re:I saw this movie (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) * on Monday February 20, 2012 @07:46PM (#39105115) Homepage Journal
    You know how marketing works, have this plant, direct from the previous ice age!.if those plants become somewhat popular and get out, i would be worried about our actual ecosystem, Anyway, isnt like something back in the age of dinosaurs or even before. Should not be so big incompatibilities with actual species, and could get back some healty food for us.
  • Re:I saw this movie (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Empiric ( 675968 ) on Monday February 20, 2012 @07:50PM (#39105161)
    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...
  • by plover ( 150551 ) * on Monday February 20, 2012 @09:45PM (#39105999) Homepage Journal

    I absolutely agree with you that threatened plants should be preserved. There is a problem, though, and that is some plants are very adapted to a tiny environmental niche. By way of example, there are prairie flowers here in Minnesota that grow only on the south side of sandy glacial moraines in a few mile radius from Glendalough State Park. According to park rangers, efforts to plant them in cultivation elsewhere have failed, as have efforts to transplant them elsewhere in the state. It's something about the soil, the drainage, the natural fertilizers, the rain, the light, the humidity, the temperatures, the snowfall, the bugs, the freezing, all coming together so intricately that nobody knows which environmental cues are required to grow them.

    Overall, this plant does not have great survival traits. And as such, I'd guess that such a plant isn't adding much to the ecosystem. But as often happens with wildflowers, there may be a certain pollinator that is finely adapted to it, meaning that if the plant dies, that specialized moth/fly/insect may die with it. So while the plant may not be directly critical to humans, it's still having some impact on its environment.

    In terms of "what is the most important plant to save", this wouldn't be at the top of the list. And in terms of "if we have storage space to save only 100,000 different seeds, so let's save the ones we know we can grow back", it also won't make the cut. But in terms of "what plants are so threatened that we should preserve their seeds while a few still exist?" it might make that list.

  • by El_Oscuro ( 1022477 ) on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:40PM (#39106595) Homepage
    Kind of like the Venus Flytrap. Contrary to popular belief, it is native to the coastal plains of North/South Carolina, not some exotic tropical jungle. Efforts to introduce them elsewhere have mostly failed, even though apparently someone has done so in New Jersey. I have a nice small colony [thinkgeek.com] which I grow outside year round in Maryland, but it requires upkeep. These plants would never survive here without my help. I mean, what could possibly go wrong? H'mm, those plants look a little big to be eating just insects. Are they supposed to be moving like that? Wait a #y!(132~a... NO_CARRIER
  • by arkham6 ( 24514 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @09:36AM (#39109661)
    Since its 300,000 years old from seed to flowering, would that not define it as the world's oldest living thing?

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson