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Scientists bring 32,000-year-old plant back to life

June 1, 2012

Earlier this year, Russian scientists managed to revive an ancient plant, Silene stenophylla, from a fruit found buried deep in the Siberian ice, marking it the first successful attempt to restore life to a frozen organism. Bloomberg reports the 32,000-year-old fruit was discovered in a fossilized squirrel burrow. The scientists extracted fruit tissue and placed it in a nutrient-filled test tube. When it began to grow, they transferred the plant to a pot of soil, where it flourished.

As the plant started to grow, it began to closely resemble its modern relatives. However, once the flowers bloomed, the differences became apparent. Science News reports the white flowers of the ancient plant had narrower petals that were closer together than current-day Silene plants.

"It is remarkable that under deep freeze, fruit tissues can remain viable for such a long time," UCLA biologist Jane Shen-Miller told Science News. "This is like regenerating a dinosaur from tissues of an ancient egg."

While it is unlikely Jurassic Park will become a reality anytime soon, the successful regeneration of this ancient plant may open the door for reviving other extinct species that have been frozen.

Those who want to discuss the implications of this scientific marvel can make calls to Russia with international phone cards to talk to their friends.


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