Scientists discover Chernobyl ‘super worms’ — RT World News

A team of US researchers has discovered that the DNA of common worm species appears immune to damage caused by chronic radiation in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. The area has been off-limits to humans since the 1986 nuclear power plant meltdown.

New York University (NYU) biology professor Matthew Rockman and postdoctoral fellow Sofia Tintori visited the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ) in 2019 and collected samples of a species of nematode called Oscheius tipulae.

“These worms live everywhere, and they live fast, so they go through dozens of generations of evolution while a typical vertebrate is still wearing its shoes.” Rockman said in the press release announcing the study results this week.

Armed with Geiger counters and wearing protective clothing, they collected samples of soil, rotting fruit and other organic matter containing worms, selecting sites with varying amounts of radiation.

Rockman and Tintori sequenced the genomes of 15 worms they collected from Chernobyl, and compared them to five strains of nematodes collected elsewhere. While worm strains differed in how they tolerated DNA damage, these differences did not correspond to radiation levels at collection sites.

Researchers “Can't detect radiation damage signature.” They said in Chernobyl worms. While careful not to jump to conclusions, Tintori and Rockman expressed hope that this research could be useful in treating cancer, for example. Their study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

A recent study conducted by Princeton University also found that wolves living in the European Economic Area have a high resistance to cancer.

One of four reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded in April 1986, releasing 400 times more radiation than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II. More than 100,000 people were evacuated from the nearby city of Pripyat. Since then, the entire area, located about 100 kilometers north of Kiev, has become unsafe for human habitation.

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