In a recent post the authors reported that:
It was in this vein that Atsuki Hiyama and colleagues at the University of the Ryukyus in Japanconducted a study, published in August 2012 in the journal Scientific Reports, on the effect of the Fukushima disaster on the pale blue grass butterfly. This butterfly is common throughout Japan, including the Fukushima area. The authors collected a number of adult butterflies in Fukushima and surrounding areas in May 2011; two months earlier at the time of the disaster these individuals were larvae overwintering underground. Many of the butterflies collected from Fukushima and other areas contaminated by radioactive fallout suffered from abnormalities not seen elsewhere in Japan; mainly changes in this species distinctive wing-patterns, but also abnormalities in the shape of the legs, appendages, eyes and wings. these were relatively mild; however when butterflies were collected four months later in September 2011, the abnormalities were much more severe and widespread (38.5% of butterflies collected in Fukushima were abnormal). Given the short lifespan of the adult butterflies (just one week) it could not be the case that this was due to prolonged exposure to radiation; none of these September butterflies were alive when the disaster first happened. This suggests that the radiation is causing mutations to the germline as well as somatic cells; that is, these abnormalities are being inherited. The authors confirmed this by raising the captured butterflies offspring in their lab; the number and severity of abnormalities increased with each generation. Finally, to confirm that radiation was capable of causing these changes, the authors exposed larvae caught in non-contaminated parts of Japan to radiation, both externally (by exposure to 137Cs radiation) and internally (by feeding them with plants taken from Fukushima and thus contaminated with radioactive molecules). These butterflies showed the same kinds of abnormalities the authors had found in the wild.
This is the first study that I have seen showing effects on the fauna relating to the nuclear disaster at Fukushima.
- There Are Mutant, Irradiated Butterflies In Japan (buzzfeed.com)
- Radiation the most probable cause of Fukushima’s deformed butterflies (nuclear-news.net)