Scientists resurrect Ice Age plant life
IT WAS an Ice Age squirrel's treasure chamber, a burrow of 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 experiment proves that permafrost serves as a natural depository for ancient life forms, said the Russian researchers, who published their findings in the US.
"We consider it essential to continue permafrost studies in search of an ancient genetic pool, which hypothetically has long since vanished from the earth's surface," they said.
Canadian researchers had earlier regenerated some significantly younger plants from seeds found in burrows.
Svetlana Yashina of the Institute of Cell Biophysics of the Russian Academy Of Sciences, who led the regeneration effort, said the revived plant looked similar to its modern version.
The scientists are now hoping to find some squirrel DNA in the burrow to reactivate.