How wild dogs of Chernobyl survive and how it will help people

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More than 35 years after the world's worst nuclear disaster, Chernobyl's dogs roam among the dilapidated abandoned buildings in and around the closed factory. Somehow they can still find food, reproduce and survive, writes FoxNews.

Scientists hope that studying these dogs can teach people new ways to survive in the harshest and most degraded environments.

On Friday, the journal Science Advances published the first of many genetic studies that focused on 302 stray dogs living in the “exclusion zone”. They identified populations whose different levels of radiation exposure could make them genetically different from each other and from others. dogs all over the world.

“We had a great opportunity” to lay the groundwork for answering the key question: “How to survive in such a hostile environment for 15 generations?“— said geneticist Elaine Ostrander of the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Tim Musso, professor of biological sciences at the University of South Carolina, said dogs “provide an incredible tool for studying the effects of these kinds of conditions.” on mammals in general.

The survival of wild dogs near the Chernobyl disaster site in Ukraine may give researchers an idea of ​​what humans might do in such situations.

Researchers say most the dogs they are studying appear to be the descendants of domestic animals that the residents were forced to leave behind after evacuating the area.

Musso has been working in the Chernobyl region since the late 1990s and began collecting blood from dogs around 2017. Some dogs live in a power plant, in a dystopian industrial setting. Others are about 9 miles or 28 miles away.

At first, scientists thought that the dogs could mix so much that they became almost identical. But with the help of DNA, they could easily identify dogs living in areas with high, low and moderate levels of radiation exposure.

“We can compare them and say: well, what has changed, what has changed, what has mutated, what has evolved, what helps you, what harms you at the DNA level?”— Ostrander said.

The scientists said the study could have broad applications in understanding how animals and humans might live now and in the future in regions of the world subject to “constant environmental aggression”; — and in a space environment with high levels of radiation.

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