Anthropogenic activities continue to impact the environment causing soil and ground water contamination in many regions and the effects are often persistent especially where heavy metals and radioactive substances have been released. Ecological problems can be particularly severe in the case of atomic power facilities and recent occurrences (Japan) indicate that the Chernobyl incident in 1986 was by no means unique. Moreover, such accidents hold a profound “dread” factor for the general population. Environmental pollution can be equally profound and even more persistent in the case of mining waste which contaminates large areas of Europe with diverse heavy metals. Plants adapt to chronic radiation and heavy metal contamination as demonstrated by re-colonization of polluted areas. This project aims to understand the basic principles of protective mechanisms and how such pollution affects the stability of the genome. We propose to establish a research network to evaluate and exploit unique resources in the Chernobyl zone and in mining sites (Wales, UK) as “open area” laboratories for studying how changes of DNA are coordinated with internal cellular networks during plant response to these pollutants. We use a combination of genetic, cell biological, molecular and evolutionary strategies. Part of the project is devoted to crop plants and their ability to grow in contaminated sites with the idea to increase productivity and safety. For the first time, eight research teams with complementary experience in radiation and other plant stresses will cooperate for solving the common for Europe problem of survival in contaminated nature. This will provide the insights on an increasingly detailed knowledge of the regulatory mechanisms for plant stress tolerance and gives an opportunity to see how the problems of Chernobyl and other contaminated places could be solved by scientists and what could be done in order to secure human life against environmental pollution.
Fields of science
Call for proposal
See other projects for this call