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Science & Technology

Ancient frozen plants revived in lab

May 29, 2013 | Comment icon 8 comments



Image Credit: Ansgar Walk
Scientists have succeeded in reviving plants frozen during a miniature ice age centuries ago.
[!gad]Known as the 'Little Ice Age', the period of climatic cooling roughly 400 years ago resulted in ice coverage over large areas of land that are only now beginning to thaw. Of particular interest in these newly melted regions are specimens of plants that despite being encased in ice for centuries are still capable of sprouting new growth when subjected to the right conditions.

"When we looked at them in detail and brought them to the lab, I could see some of the stems actually had new growth of green lateral branches, and that said to me that these guys are regenerating in the field, and that blew my mind," said study author Catherine La Farge. Such plants offer intriguing clues as to how the planet's ecosystems recover from long cyclic periods of ice coverage throughout history.
Plants that were frozen during the "Little Ice Age" centuries ago have been observed sprouting new growth, scientists say. Samples of 400-year-old plants known as bryophytes have flourished under laboratory conditions.


Source: BBC News | Comments (8)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Doug1029 9 years ago
There are at least two cases of lupine seeds having been germinated after being recovered from 10,000-year-old lemming middens. That's either suspended animation or something very close to it. If not in suspended animation, those seeds would have been respiring at a rate of about two molecules per minute. Goose-berries have remained alive in a laboratory jar for over 75 years stored at room temperature. Some plants seems to be able to die, then be resurrected. Maybe the Christians are onto something. Doug
Comment icon #2 Posted by pallidin 9 years ago
Interesting article linked by Still Waters and also the comment from Doug ^^^
Comment icon #3 Posted by Sundew 9 years ago
Bryophytes are mosses if I remember correctly, and mosses are tough plants. They can be desiccated, sun baked, frozen, etcetera and then revived when placed in a suitable environment. These particular species were already from a cold climate and probably got frozen on a regular basic under normal conditions. No doubt things like lichens and algae could live much longer and still revive when better times came along. If terraforming other planets ever becomes a reality it will be tough organisms like these, perhaps genetically modified, that likely will be used.
Comment icon #4 Posted by moonshadow60 9 years ago
I would love to see what this plant looks like, if it is any different than plants living now. It's a fascinating thought that something from centuries or even longer ago can be resurrected.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Sundew 9 years ago
I would love to see what this plant looks like, if it is any different than plants living now. It's a fascinating thought that something from centuries or even longer ago can be resurrected. It's only 400 years old, almost certainly it is identical to species extant today near the same area.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Lava_Lady 9 years ago
Really cool to get a peak so far into the past but I hope we are not resurrecting something we can't handle.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Doug1029 9 years ago
name='moonshadow60' timestamp='1369853238' post='4792967' I would love to see what this plant looks like, if it is any different than plants living now. It's a fascinating thought that something from centuries or even longer ago can be resurrected. http://www.pnas.org/...0.full.pdf html Doug
Comment icon #8 Posted by Doug1029 9 years ago
It's only 400 years old, almost certainly it is identical to species extant today near the same area. Here's a link to The Old List: http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~adk/oldlisteast/ It's a little bit out of date, though. There's an older shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) from southwest Missouri that dates to 1580 (414 years old). There's an eastern red-cedar Juniperus virginana) from Henyretta, Oklahoma that is 605 years old and I have a core from another one in the same area that was 305 years old in 2009. Doug


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