Environmental radiation exposure at Chornobyl has not systematically affected the genomes or chemical mutagen tolerance phenotypes of local worms

Sophia C. Tintori, Derin Çağlar, Patrick Ortiz, Ihor Chyzhevskyi, Timothy A. Mousseau, Matthew V. Rockman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The 1986 disaster at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant transformed the surrounding region into the most radioactive landscape known on the planet. Whether or not this sudden environmental shift selected for species, or even individuals within a species, that are naturally more resistant to mutagen exposure remains an open question. In this study, we collected, cultured, and cryopreserved 298 wild nematode isolates from areas varying in radioactivity within the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone. We sequenced and assembled genomes de novo for 20 Oscheius tipulae strains, analyzed their genomes for evidence of recent mutation acquisition in the field, and observed no evidence of an association between mutation and radioactivity at the sites of collection. Multigenerational exposure of each of these strains to several chemical mutagens in the lab revealed that strains vary heritably in tolerance to each mutagen, but mutagen tolerance cannot be predicted based on the radiation levels at collection sites, and Chornobyl isolates were not systematically more resistant than strains from undisturbed habitats. In sum, the absence of mutational signatures does not reflect unique capacity for tolerating DNA damage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e2314793121
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume121
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 12 2024

Keywords

  • Chornobyl
  • mutagen tolerance
  • rhabditids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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