Researchers in Russia have revived a fertile plant from the remains of 32,000-year-old fruit that was found buried within the fossilized burrows of ancient squirrels deep in the Siberian ice.
The resurrected plant, from an era of woolly mammoths and saber-tooth cats, is the oldest viable multicellular living organism, according to the study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It is also the first plant returned to life from permafrost conditions, researchers said.
The discovery raises the possibility of reviving other frozen organisms with prehistoric gene pools, researchers said. Using a horticulture technique called micropropagation, researchers grew the plant from fruit tissue in a test tube of nutrients. The ones that grew roots were transferred into pots with soil and light, where they developed flowers and seeds.