In the period from 5 to 25, August, 2011 International Radioecology Laboratory (IRL) and Texas Tech University (TTU) conducted a set of field and laboratory work devoted to the evaluation of radiation effects in the genetic structure of wild populations, living for a long time in the most contaminated after the Chornobyl accident areas.
This project is a logical extension of the long-term collaborative research on this subject and, as before, in the center of attention – the rodents. In another first trips to the Chornobyl zone (1995-1996), TTU experts discovered that, contrary to all expectations and despite the very high dose rates, the population of wild rodents sufficiently viable and shows no signs of depression, even in the most radioactive world biocoenosis – “Red Forest”.
Following studies (in 1999-2008 – joint with IRL) revealed many interesting things, allowing us to understand how living beings overcome the radiation effects and the reasons of doing it well. This project aims to determine: whether there are changes in the genetic structure of populations living for 70-80 generations in the theoretically adverse conditions, and if so, than which changes, and whether they are related to the radiation factor. In the first phase that took place last August, scientists caught animals. Work was carried out at the same places as in previous years, including as the most “polluted” and “pure” places outside the Exclusion Zone. In laboratory conditions, the tissue samples were selected, prepared and frozen for subsequent transportation to the United States. There, with the help of modern equipment and sophisticated genetic technologies mitochondrial DNA sequences will be examined and all the questions will be answered.
In parallel, the radioactive contamination of animals will be assessed and radiation doses received by them will be calculated in IRL. It is necessary for a correct comparison of the genome of populations, which live in the different radiation conditions.