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Impact of the radioactive contamination of the Chernobyl NPP exclusion zone on the bacterial biodiversity and molecular physiology of plants


Nominated by National University Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine

Authors: Pareniuk Olena Yuriyivna, Danchenko Maksym Mykolayovych

The nominated work investigated the influence of soil radionuclide contamination on immobile components of ecosystems – microorganisms and plants. Novel researchtechniques provided unique data, collected on the test plots inside the Chernobyl NPP exclusion zone. Our comprehensive results are a successful example of implementation of a modern multidisciplinary strategy for studying ecosystems. Firstly, they describe how radionuclide contamination affects a living component of the soil; secondly, they detail plants molecular responses.

Herein, the identification of dominant microorganisms in contaminated soils was done for the first time. Particularly, cultures of bacteria that belong to Bacillus, Burkholderia and Streptomyces genera were isolated. The authors evaluated composition of ecological trophic categories of soil microorganisms during the vegetative season, in conditions of chronic irradiation. A positive correlation between the specific activity of radiocesium and the quantity of ammonifying bacteria was proven (R=0.65). Authors showed that particular microorganisms could modify soil-to-plant 137Cs transfer coefficient. Specifically, Azotobacter chroococcum UCM B-6003 stimulated the transfer of radionuclide (1.5 times); contrary, Burkholderia sp. IMER-B1-53 reduced its accumulation (1.3 times). These bacterial traits are useful for soil remediation adjustment.

Authors analyzed proteomes of soybean and flax seeds, grown in the contaminated plots in Chernobyl NPP exclusion zone for the first time. Thus, key cellular processes altered because of low doses impact were determined. The proposed concept of response to chronic irradiation includes the following components: 1) changes in storage proteins, mediated by transporters (sucrose binding proteins) are specific for soybean; 2) shifted signaling which affects alarmones and reversible phosphorylation is unique for flax; 3) activated expression, that influences synthesis and packing of proteins (calreticulin and other chaperones) as well as redirection of the primary metabolism (through multifunctional glycolytic enzymes) for the synthesis of glycine betaine, phytochelatins and dehydrins are universal reactions.

Results were presented on a number of Ukrainian and international conferences, also they are used in the educational process at local universities. Experiments were supported by several competitive grants and scholarships.Complementary data is available on the dedicated web site, promoting the achievements of Ukrainian science.

Publications: 74, including one textbook, 23 articles (14 – in international journals). Total number of citations, according to Scopus, is 104, h-index equal to 7; one PhD thesis was defended within nominated topic.