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The permafrost of the world's Arctic regions holds many prehistoric mysteries. Whether it's a well-preserved mammoth or an ancient plant, scientists can learn a lot from these biological discoveries. In 2012, a Russian team regenerated a  fertile, flowering line of his Silene stenophylla plants from his 32,000-year-old  pods. This amazing feat is detailed in an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

The discovery of  prehistoric seed pods was part of a large-scale excavation of an ancient ground squirrel wintering burrow in the Siberian ice sheet. Squirrel food was preserved in confined burrows, providing a wealth of biological evidence. The fruit of  Silene stenophylla specifically dates to the Pleistocene, about 32,000 years ago. Researchers from the Russian Academy of Sciences have so far found that the oldest regenerated plant is a  date palm, which is about 2,000 years old.

The Russian team tried for the first time to use ripe seeds from  fruit capsules. However, it was discovered that no plant could grow from these seeds. The team then continued to try using placental tissue from immature seeds. Using cloning technology, 36 plants were grown from ancient material.

Although they looked like the modern Silene stenophylla that still grows in the area, after flowering the petals were more widely spaced  than in the modern version. Interestingly, old plants produced seeds that produced 100% new plants - better  than  modern strains. These 32,000-year-old plants may hold the key to more permafrost secrets.

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