An animal resistant to the effects of radiation was found in Chernobyl

An animal resistant to the effects of radiation was found in Chernobyl


Photo: Sofia Tintori

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Scientists have discovered that microscopic worms that live in the soil throughout Ukraine do not react at all to radioactive radiation in Chernobyl. Their study will help reveal people’s predisposition to oncology.

This is stated in a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Scienceswrites the Daily Mail.

Scientists studied worms that lived in the soil 46 kilometers from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. They found out that these worms are physically and genetically very different from their “relatives” from other regions of Ukraine – primarily in their resistance to radioactive radiation.

“I saw footage of the exclusion zone and was shocked at how lush and overgrown it looked. I never thought it would be teeming with life. It’s the perfect landscape for finding worms that are particularly resistant to radiation exposure.”– says Sofia Tintori, a researcher at the Faculty of Biology at New York University.

To learn how radiation affects worms in the exclusion zone, biologist Timothy Musso of the University of South Carolina visited Chernobyl in 2019. For the experiment, he selected worms from soil, rotten fruit and other organic materials in places with different levels of pollution.

Scientists sequenced the genomes of 15 O. tipulae worms from Chernobyl and compared them with the genomes of five O. tipulae from other parts of the world.

Scientists were surprised that after a series of analyzes they could not find any traces of radiation damage in the genomes of Chernobyl worms – they were as healthy as their relatives from “clean” regions.

“This doesn’t mean that Chernobyl is safe. Rather, it means that nematodes are really resilient animals and can withstand extreme conditions. We also don’t know how long each of the worms we collected was in the exclusion zone, so we can’t be sure to be certain about the level of influence each of them and their ancestors experienced over the past four decades”Sofia Tintori noted.

The results showed that the resistance of worms to chemical mutagens was different and did not depend on the level of radiation in their habitat. This means that the worms in the Chernobyl zone did not develop their resistance to radiation, and their evolution was not accelerated due to radiation exposure.

This study may provide an answer to the question of why some people are genetically more prone to cancer.

“Knowing how people respond differently to DNA-damaging agents will help us better understand our own risk factors.”– added Sofia Tintori.

Earlier, scientists found out that wolf populationliving in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, have mutated and may have resistance to cancer.

Anzhelika Talaban, “UP. Life”


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