MOSCOW, February 21 (RIA Novosti)
A team of Russian scientists have resurrected a plant from 30,000-year-old seeds discovered in the Far Eastern permafrost in an unprecedented experiment marking a step towards unveiling the secrets of ancient life on Earth.
The plant, the Silene Stenophylla, the oldest to be regenerated, is fertile, producing white flowers and viable seeds, the scientists said in an article published on Tuesday in the biweekly U.S. magazine Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“We consider it essential to continue permafrost studies in search of an ancient genetic pool, that of pre-existing life, which hypothetically has long since vanished from the earth's surface,” the article reads.
The experiment, carried out in the town of Pushchino in the Moscow Region, proves that permafrost serves as a natural depository for ancient life forms, the researchers said. The seeds were discovered 38 meters (125 feet) deep in permafrost on the bank of the River Kolyma in the Far Eastern Magadan Region.
Seeds of ancient plants aged between 40,000 and 25,000 years have been previously discovered in the region, mainly in rodent nests, but scientists were unable to resurrect them.
The seeds were firmly cemented together and often totally filled with ice in a kind of natural freezing chamber, which made any water infiltration impossible and helped preserve the seeds.
The shape and color of the ancient plant were similar to today's distant relatives of the same flower, although with subtle differences in the shape of the petals and the sex of the flowers for, as yet, unknown reasons, the article said.
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