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J Proteome Res. 2009 Jun;8(6):2915-22. doi: 10.1021/pr900034u.

Proteomic analysis of mature soybean seeds from the Chernobyl area suggests plant adaptation to the contaminated environment.

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Department of Reproduction and Developmental Biology, Institute of Plant Genetics and Biotechnology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Nitra, Slovakia.


The explosion in one of the four reactors of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (CNPP, Chernobyl) caused the worst nuclear environmental disaster ever seen. Currently, 23 years after the accident, the soil in the close vicinity of CNPP is still significantly contaminated with long-living radioisotopes, such as (137)Cs. Despite this contamination, the plants growing in Chernobyl area were able to adapt to the radioactivity, and survive. The aim of this study was to investigate plant adaptation mechanisms toward permanently increased level of radiation using a quantitative high-throughput proteomics approach. Soybeans of a local variety (Soniachna) were sown in contaminated and control fields in the Chernobyl region. Mature seeds were harvested and the extracted proteins were subjected to two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE). In total, 9.2% of 698 quantified protein spots on 2-D gel were found to be differentially expressed with a p-value </= 0.05. All differentially expressed spots were excised from the 2-D gels and analyzed by tandem mass spectrometry. Identified differentially expressed proteins were categorized into six main metabolic classes. Most abundant functional classes were associated with protein destination and storage followed by disease and defense. On the basis of the identity of these proteins, a working model for plant adaptation toward radio-contaminated Chernobyl soil conditions was proposed. Our results suggest that adaptation toward heavy metal stress, protection against radiation damage, and mobilization of seed storage proteins are involved in plant adaptation mechanism to radioactivity in the Chernobyl region.

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