An article in The Hindu paper reports on an amazing research done of soya beans farmed within the vicinity of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Although the consequences from the radioactive fall out from the damaged reactor have been gruesome, ongoing studies on nature’s adaptation to the unique environment on earth reveals that plants have adopted unique mechanisms to repair and retain its genetic make up. The article points out to studies of soya beans and how the plant concentrates radioactive metals found in the soil into its shoots, leaving the beans (in this case the seeds of the plant) with relatively lower levels of damaging radioactive material. In effect the plant shields its seeds’ genetic heritage from stored exposure of radiation therefore allowing the seed to preserve the genetic make of the plant and the next generation a fighting chance to retain the original make-up of the species. The scientist are at a loss as to what are the mechanisms operating this miracle. It shows that Nature is a lot more intelligent than we previously thought.
It will be interesting to see our level of awareness in a few generation when further analysis of affected nature from the Fukushima disaster in Japan reveal its secrets. I can foresee interesting applications from such studies in the search for adapting plants for growing food in similar hostile conditions such as in outer space, the surface of the moon and possibly other planets where shielding from the solar radiation is not as effective as the magnetic field of the earth.