High levels of genetic change in rodents of Chernobyl

Robert J. Baker, Ronald A. Van Den Bussche, Amanda J. Wright, Lara E. Wiggins, Meredith J. Hamilton, Erin P. Reat, Michael H. Smith, Michael D. Lomakin, Ronald K. Chesser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Base-pair substitution rates for the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene of free-living, native populations of voles collected next to reactor 4 at Chernobyl, Ukraine, were estimated by two independent methods to be in excess of 10-4 nucleotides per site per generation. These estimates are hundreds of times greater than those typically found in mitochondria of vertebrates, suggesting that the environment resulting from this nuclear power plant disaster is having a measurable genetic impact on the organisms of that region. Despite these DNA changes, vole populations thrive and reproduce in the radioactive regions around the Chernobyl reactor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)707-708
Number of pages2
Issue number6576
StatePublished - Apr 25 1996


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