Study Finds Dogs Living In Chernobyl Have Mutated DNA That Helps Them Adapt To Severe Conditions

In April of 1986, the world watched in horror as the largest nuclear disaster to date occured in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (CNPP) in Ukraine.

Since the disaster happened 37 years ago, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone has been evacuated by humans, deemed unsuitable to live in.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Piotr Andryszczak License: CC BY-SA 3.0

However, endangered wildlife seems to be thriving in that zone in the absence of humans as Mother nature takes over.

Among the animals living around Chernobyl are plenty of dogs. Recently, researchers have been working to determine how a disaster like the nuclear incident of Chernobyl can impact animal populations. As it turns out, the disaster had a profound impact on the dogs nearby, and their bodies have genetically adapted!

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Jorge Franganillo from Barcelona, Spain License: CC BY 2.0

According to a study titled “Population dynamics and genome-wide selection scan for dogs in Chernobyl” that was published in Canine Medicine and Genetics in March 2023, researchers found genetic evidence that these populations of dogs “may have adapted to exposures faced over many generations.”

Their findings, which noted differences in DNA among Chernobyl dogs vs other dogs, can help assess “how the impact of environmental catastrophes such as the Chernobyl nuclear disaster can influence animal populations.”

Photo: Pixabay/Taken

This isn’t the first study that has been done on the genetic differences of dogs living near Chernobyl. Other researchers have found genetic differences in dogs living near Chernobyl compared to other dogs. Now, researchers are hoping to use that data to determine how the impact of such a catastrophe can influence animal populations at such a foundational level as DNA and genetics.

It’ll be interesting to see how much more their research uncovers in the coming years.

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