Russian Scientists Grow Flower From Prehistoric Seed

February 21, 2012  |  2 Comments  |  by Ben Czajkowski  |  Gardening
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The evil work of ground squirrels turns into a modern, scientific achievement when, according to a Discover Magazine posting, Russian scientists grew flowers from 31,800-plus year old fruits that the furry little buggers buried in Siberia.

Scrat the Squirrel, from Ice Age

Scrat the Squirrel, from Ice Age

Pictured below, the flowers, named Silene stenophylla, grew from extracted material in seeds that were preserved at seven-below-zero degree Celsius, buried on the banks of the Kolyma River by, most likely, a squirrel.

Prehistoric White Flowers - From Discover Magazine

Prehistoric White Flowers - From Discover Magazine

While we as gardeners tuck seeds into sterile material and wait for them to sprout, the Russian team took a little bit of a different approach:

Svetlana Yashina from the Russian Academy of Sciences grew the plants from immature fruits recovered from the burrow. She extracted their placentas – the structure that the seeds attach to – and bathed them in a brew of sugars, vitamins and growth factors. From these tissues, roots and shoots emerged.

Silene stenophylla, still existing in nature today in an evolved format, appears to be the real deal. Its seed material has been verified, based on the age of surrounding samples. What is also amazing is the suggested amount of radiation the plant would have absorbed.

Modern Day Silene Plant

Modern Day Silene Plant

Back in 2008, Israeli scientists grew the Phoenix palm from seeds that were roughly 20 centuries old. In the 1960s, Canadian scientists cloned what they thought were Arctic lupins; it turned out to just be a contaminated sample.

A note of caution about the study: at the moment of this writing, the DOI entry is not accessible. It should be available, later this week or next, here.

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2 Responses to “Russian Scientists Grow Flower From Prehistoric Seed”

Flower Seeds says:

That is so cool that they used a flower seeds from way back in the day and they still were able to grow them. I think that’s just incredible…

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