Scientists Revive a Plant from the Pleistocene Epoch & It’s 32,000 Years Old

A lot of prehistoric secrets are hidden in the permafrost of the arctic regions. Whether it’s an ancient plant or a preserved mammoth, scientists learn so much from the biological findings there.

Back in 2012, one team from Russia managed to regenerate fertile, flowering Silene stenophylla plants from seed pods from 32000 years ago.

This amazing achievement of reviving a plant that grew more than 30000 years ago was explained in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This achievement foreshadows other developments which may emerge from the permafrost.

How Were the Prehistoric Seed Pods Discovered?

The finding of these prehistoric seed pods happened as part of a bigger excavation of ancient ground squirrel burrows for hibernation in Siberia in deposits of ice. 

The food supplies of the squirrels were trapped and maintained in the burrows and became a source of evidence. The fruit of the Silene stenophylla dates to around 32,000 years ago during the Pleistocene epoch.

They were a challenge for the team at the Russian Academy of Scientists. The oldest regenerated plant previously was a Judean date plan that was around 2000-years-old.

How Did the Russian Team Do the Regeneration of this Plant?

The team first tried to use mature seeds from the pods; but, these seeds weren’t able to generate a plant. 

Next, the team decided to try placental tissue from the immature seeds. With the help of cloning tech, 36 plants were bred from this ancient material. 

While looking at the modern S. stenophylla that still grows in the area, when the plants flowered in this version, the petals were spaced additionally than they were in the modern version. 

The ancient plants produced seeds that resulted in new plants 100 percent of the time, which is a much better rate than that of the modern version, explains the team. 

This study points out that the permafrost may be a depository of ancient gene pool-an area where a number of species that are extinct may be found and resurrected. 

What’s more, many of these plants from ancient times or that have gone extinct would be very useful today if they could be brought back, according to botanist Elaine Solowey. 

She resurrected the 2000-year-old date palm which held the previous record of the oldest regenerated seed.

Without a doubt, these 32000-year-old plants may hold the key to the secrets of the permafrost, but this remains to be seen.