Silene stenophylla


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One day many tausend years ago, an arctic ground squirrel ate parts of a plant, silene stenophylla, including its seed. The squirrel was digesting it when its life ended.

Its body was recovered from permafrost and examined. Scientists germinated this plant seed. This silene stenophylla just bloomed.

It is 32,000 years old.

The strength, the vitality and stamina of living things — of life itself — is incredible.

From Wikipedia

Silene stenophylla is a species of flowering plant in the family Caryophyllaceae. Commonly called narrow-leafed campion, it is a species in the genus Silene. It grows in the Arctic tundra of far eastern Siberia and the mountains of northern Japan. Frozen samples, estimated via radiocarbon dating to be around 32,000 years old, were discovered in the same area as current living specimens, and in 2012, a team of scientists successfully regenerated a plant from the samples.

A team of scientists from Russia, Hungary and the United States recovered frozen Silene stenophylla seeds and remains from the Pleistocene in 2007, while investigating about 70 ancient ground squirrel hibernation burrows or caches, hidden in permanently frozen loess-ice deposits located at Duvanny Yar, on the right bank of the lower Kolyma River in Sakha Republic, northeastern Siberia, in the plant’s present-day range.[8]

Using radiocarbon dating, the age of the seeds was estimated at between 20,000 and 40,000 years, dating the seeds to the Pleistocene epoch. The embryos were damaged, possibly by the animals’ activity. The research team presented their findings at the Botany & Plant Biology conference in Chicago, Illinois in 2007. The burrows were found 20–40 m below the present-day surface. Usually the rodents would eat the food in their larders, but in this case a flood or other weather event buried the whole area. Since the rodents had placed the larders at the level of the permafrost, the material froze almost immediately, and did not thaw out at any time since. More than 600,000 fruits and seeds were located at the site.

In February 2012, a team of scientists from the Institute of Cell Biophysics of the Russian Academy of Sciences announced they had successfully regenerated specimens from fruit that had been frozen for 31,800 (±300) years according to their radiocarbon dating. The accomplishment surpasses the previous record for the oldest plant material brought back to life, of 2000 years set by Judean date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) seeds. The team leder was David Gilichinsky, who died in February 2012, just before the paper was published. He was recognized by the team as a “pioneer in studying microorganisms in Siberian and Antarctic permafrost, his achievement attracted scientists from all over the world to research on permafrost life systems.”

From Austria press:

Plant biotechnologist Margit Laimer from the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology in Vienna received one of the plant’s tissue cultures from her Russian colleagues. The connection was initiated by the Vienna-based artist Christian Kosmas Mayer, who has been working on visualising time periods for many years: He exhibited the cultures in 2019 as part of his show “Aeviternity” at the Vienna mumok.

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