Wild Flower From 30,000 Years Ago

Posted on 26 February 2012 by Jerry

I am always amazed at the tenacity with which life survives all manner of misfortunes.  A considerable part of Beyond Animal, Ego and Time focuses on how the experiences, memory, and information of life is indelibly recorded on matter and survives the death of an organism.  A most recent example is in a report by scientists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that documents the “Regeneration of whole fertile plants from 30,000 year old fruit tissue buried in Siberian permafrost.” 

The research conducted by Svetlana Yashina, Stanislav Gubin, Stanislav Maksimovich, Alexandra Yashina, Edith Gakhova, and David Gilichinsky describes how plant seeds preserved in frozen, and never thawed, late Pleistocene permafrost were retrieved from fossil squirrel burrows and induced to germinate through in vitro tissue culture and clonal micropropagation. While the Silene stenophylla commonly called a narrow-leafed campion was successfully regenerated (pictured above), similar attempts with seed from sedge, Arctic dock, and alpine bearberray had begun to germinate but subsequently died.  These plants are the oldest living multicellular organisms on Earth.

Use the following links for further information on these plants:

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/02/17/1118386109.abstract?sid=36139cb5-23af-4400-a9aa-1e596dfd2ac

http://www.nature.com/news/wild-flower-blooms-again-after-30-000-years-on-ice-1.10069

Note: Picture from S. YASHINA ET AL. PROC. NATL ACAD. SCI. USA

2 Comments For This Post

  1. Lauren Says:

    Now where can I get one for my own garden? LOL!

  2. Katherine Nicole Says:

    Actually, Lauren brings up an interesting point…Should we be concerned about reintroducing these extinct organisms to a changed ecosystem? I mean, I know when we’re talking about tasmanian tiger dna resurrected in mice, it’s unlikely that some enterprising mouse will escape the lab (or some unscupulous lab tech will take home a new pet) but is there any reason in worrying about plant material leaving the lab?

    I’ve met some of the hard-core garden enthusiasts and totally believe that there’s some botany-lovers out there who would pay a pretty penny to get their hands on an extinct flower…What’s to keep some entreprenurial scientists from selling these seedlings in a free market? Are there [current] laws in place regarding extinct species (of ANY kind) and their reintroduction outside of labs?

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