Scientists Find Dogs Surviving Radiation at Chernobyl Nuclear Site Have ‘Mutant DNA’

Dogs with altered genes have been found near the Chernobyl site; these mutations may assist the canines survived in a poisonous environment.

The No. 4 reactor blew up at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine in April 1986 as a result of an accident. The majority of the community’s residents evacuated as a result of the incident, frequently leaving their pets behind.

Scientists have discovered hundreds of stray canines frequenting the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone after about 40 years (CEZ). CEZ is a 1,000-square-mile area with restricted access due to nuclear fallout.

These pups are probably the offspring of pets that were abandoned, and scientists from North Carolina State University think they can shed light on genetic mutation caused by radioactivity. To explore this, the team, lead by PhD student Megan Dillon, looked at DNA blood samples acquired from two dog populations of Chernobyl.

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Abandoned City of Chernobyl

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Dogs with altered genes have been found near the Chernobyl site; these mutations may assist the canines survive in a poisonous environment.

The first group resides just outside the power plant, and the second is 10 miles away, close to the mostly deserted city of Chernobyl.

The researchers discovered evidence that suggests stray dogs near Chernobyl may have genetically changed to thrive in their poisonous environment. In the research paper, the scientists found genetic evidence that suggests that these populations may have specially evolved to exposures encountered over many generations.

This in turn enables analysis of “how environmental disasters like the Chernobyl nuclear disaster can affect animal populations.” The team found the scenario to be fascinating and wants to know “how much the offspring of these abandoned canines have adapted to survive and sustain a rising population under these extreme climatic conditions.”

Expanding and understanding the genetic and health implications of the exposure to both radiological and chemical insults in these dogs will expand the greater understanding of how these types of adverse environmental stressors could impact human health, the researchers concluded.

Researchers did point out that additional studies are required to conclusively prove that these mutations do, in fact, point to genetic adaptability. Yet, the team intends to keep searching for indications of radioactive life in the aftermath.

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