Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Birds in Chernobyl Area Have Smaller Brains

11.02.2011
Birds living near the site of the Chernobyl nuclear accident have on average 5 percent smaller brains, according to research led by a University of South Carolina scientist.

Twenty-five years after the Chernobyl disaster, low-dose radiation has proved to have significant effects on normal brain development, shown by the birds’ brain size. Smaller brain sizes are believed to be linked to reduced cognitive ability, says~ Dr. Timothy Mousseau, a USC biology science professor who, along with his collaborator, Anders Moller of the University of Paris-Sud in France, led the team of researchers from the United States, Italy, Norway, France and Ukraine.

“These findings point to broad-scale neurological effects of chronic exposure to low-dose radiation,” Mousseau said. “The fact that we see this pattern for a large portion of the bird community suggests a general phenomenon that may have significant long-term repercussions.”

Mousseau said these types of defects have been previously reported in humans and other organisms, but those were at higher contamination levels.

Mousseau has been studying the effects of the Chernobyl accident for 12 years, exploring the ecological and evolutionary consequences of the radioactive contaminants affecting populations of birds, insects and people inhabiting the Chernobyl region of Ukraine.

In this study, published this month in the journal PLoS One, Mousseau and his colleagues studied 550 birds belonging to 48 different species living in exclusion zones set up around the site of the accident. The researchers found the small brains were particularly evident in the youngest birds.

“This suggests that many of the birds with smaller brains are not surviving to the next year, perhaps related to decreased cognitive abilities.” “Mousseau said not only are their brains smaller, but it seems they are not as capable at dealing with their environment as evidenced by their lower rates of survival”.

Stressed birds often adapt by changing the size of some of their organs to survive difficult environment conditions. The brain is the last organ to be sacrificed this way, meaning the radiation could be having worse impacts on other organs of the birds.

Mousseau said there is information in the medical literature to suggest that low-dose radiation can be harmful to humans, including recent studies on children in northern Ukraine who have higher rates of neural tube defects and related neurological disorders than other children in uncontaminated regions of the Ukraine and Europe.

Since 1998, the University of South Carolina has sponsored research related to the long-term ecological and health consequences of the radioactive contaminants that were dispersed over vast expanses of Europe in 1986. The research is important for the understanding of long-term consequences of radiation and ecosystems and human health, and it will be instrumental in predicting the environmental half-lives of these contaminants. This research is also of significance for hazard assessment related to industrial, military or terrorist nuclear incidents and the effects of mutagens on evolutionary responses of natural populations.

Last year, Mousseau and Moller published the results of the largest wildlife census of its kind conducted in Chernobyl. The study revealed that insect diversity and mammals were declining in the exclusion zone surrounding the nuclear power plant. The research examined how often a species renewed parts of its DNA, thus finding a way to predict which species were likely to be most severely damaged by radioactive contamination.

Further information can be found at: http://cricket.biol.sc.edu/chernobyl/

Megan Sexton | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://cricket.biol.sc.edu/chernobyl/

Further reports about: Birds Brains Chernobyl Mousseau PLoS One brain size neural tube defect smaller

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>