I previously reported that monkeys and other animals around Fukushima are being tested for effects of exposure to radiation from the accident. Some of those effects are now known.
Colorado’s Summit County Citizens Voice reported today:
The disastrous 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan is likely to leave a lasting genetic legacy, scientists said as they released results from a series of studies that outline the serious biological effects of the Fukushima radiation on non-human organisms ranging from plants to butterflies to birds.
The findings are outlined in a series of stories published in the Journal of Heredity, outlining widespread impacts, ranging from population declines to genetic damage to responses by the repair mechanisms that help organisms cope with radiation exposure.
As the lead author of one of the studies put it:
“A growing body of empirical results from studies of birds, monkeys, butterflies, and other insects suggests that some species have been significantly impacted by the radioactive releases related to the Fukushima disaster,” said Dr. Timothy Mousseau, of the University of South Carolina, lead author of one of the studies.
One of the studies looked at the effects of radiation on rice:
One of the studies (Hayashi et al. 2014) documented the effects of radiation on rice by exposing healthy seedlings to low-level gamma radiation at a contaminated site in Fukushima Prefecture. After three days, a number of effects were observed, including activation of genes involved in self-defense, ranging from DNA replication and repair to stress responses to cell death.
“The experimental design employed in this work will provide a new way to test how the entire rice plant genome responds to ionizing radiation under field conditions,” explained Dr. Randeep Rakwal of the University of Tsukuba in Japan, one of the authors of the study.
These studies can provide a baseline for future studies:
All of these studies highlight the need for early and ongoing monitoring at sites of accidental radiation release. “Detailed analyses of genetic impacts to natural populations could provide the information needed to predict recovery times for wild communities at Fukushima as well as any sites of future nuclear accidents,” Mousseau said. “There is an urgent need for greater investment in basic scientific research of the wild animals and plants of Fukushima.”
And I can never pass up to opportunity to use a Simpsons graphic. Here’s Ned Flanders and a radioactive monkey that had tricked Homer Simpson into releasing him into Ned’s house.