Radiation from Fukushima Caused Butterfly Mutations, Study Says

1

Radioactive materials emitted during the Fukushima disaster caused physical mutations and genetic damage to butterfly populations living near the nuclear plant, a new study says.

In a series of tests, Japanese scientists found that butterflies collected from the Fukushima area about two months after the 2011 accident were more likely to have leg, antennae, and wing shape mutations than those found elsewhere.

According to their findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, butterflies found in areas with higher levels of radiation developed much smaller wings and eye irregularities.

After breeding these butterflies in a laboratory, researchers found the next generation had numerous abnormalities not seen in the previous generation, including malformed antennae. And adult butterflies collected near Fukushima six months after the initial tests were more than twice as likely to have mutations than those found soon after the accident.

“It has been believed that insects are very resistant to radiation,” said Joji Otaki, a scientist at the University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa, and lead author of the study, told BBC News. “In that sense, our results were unexpected.”

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

About Author

Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

  • sheckyvegas

    Kinda tells you a lot about the levels of radiation being emitted, don’t it?