On March 11, 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant experienced a catastrophic failure that resulted in the meltdown of 3 of the plant’s 6 nuclear reactors. The event was triggered when a tsunami hit the area, which was the aftermath of a magnitude 9.0 earthquake. The plant started spilling out large amounts of radioactive material the day after the event, which will leave lasting scars on the environment for years to come.
Unlike the infamous 1986 Chernobyl disaster where serious delays resulted in significant gaps in impact data on both humans and non-human species, scientists started collecting biological information just a few months after the Fukushima catastrophe. Researchers hoped to gather information on the long-term genetic outcomes of varying levels of radiation exposure and also to identify strategies to assess the overall biological effects of ionizing radiation. Now, in a series of papers published in the Journal of Heredity, scientists are starting to reveal the damaging effects on several non-human organisms.