Professor Martin Bačkor, a scientist working with the Physiology and Ecology of plants in extreme conditions of the Institute of Biology and Ecology FS, P.J.Š. University, in the year 2017 (January-March) took part for the first time in a unique scientific polar expedition in Antarctica. For this reason, on the 10th of August this year he joined a new expedition which now will take place in Spitsbergen when he will connect his research with the solutions of some of his earlier projects from Antarctica.
“We have a number of unanswered questions, for we would like to find answers in connection with plants in extreme conditions. We are currently working in the town of Longyearbyen in Spitsbergen, which has approximately only 2500 inhabitants but 3000 white bears. A lot of expeditions has started from this place and it is also our base situated behind the North Pole. There is for example, the most northern hospital, bank, church, university, library and restaurant in the world. Near the town there are places with a lot of fossils. It is because the whole archipelago of Svalbrad (from which the biggest island is Spitsbergen where in the past there were coal mines) is moving unstoppably towards the North Pole with a speed of 1.5 cm each year from the time immemorial through infinite geological periods. It is like a stone geological database of organisms from the old times. However, with this speed “probably” no one of us will be a victim of the event when it finally reaches the North Pole.” – said professor Bačkor before his departure.
The content of professor Bačkov´s research is related mostly with questions of the environment and with the plants´ ability to react to it, because as he mentioned some algae or lichen are capable of producing materials which help to filtrate the UV radiation, which prevents DNA and protein degradation. Moreover, some plants are also interesting due to their resistance towards extreme cold or drying up. The professor is intensively interested in collecting unique species of plants producing biological important materials with other interesting features, which he will test in laboratories with his colleagues of the P.J.Š. University and from other Slovak and foreign faculties.
The expedition´s organizer is the University of South Bohemia České Budějovice, which is the owner of the parent polar base in Longyearbyen. According to professor Bačkor, the base is also equipped with provisional scientific laboratories. However, the scientists will spend the major part of the expedition in the bay of Petunienbukta, in the Nostoc station without a conventional telephone signal, Internet and other achievements of the civilization. They will live in ship containers adapted for provisional survival. The professor pointed out that within the expedition a lot of partial scientific tasks are and will be dealt with by scientific workers not only from Slovakia and the Czech Republic but also from Germany, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Norway and other countries.