Comparative sensitivity to gamma radiation at the organismal, cell and DNA level in young plants of Norway spruce, Scots pine and Arabidopsis thaliana
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Persistent DNA damage in gamma-exposed Norway spruce, Scots pine and Arabidopsis thaliana, but persistent adverse effects at the organismal and cellular level in the conifers only.
Gamma radiation emitted from natural and anthropogenic sources may have strong negative impact on plants, especially at high dose rates. Although previous studies implied different sensitivity among species, information from comparative studies under standardized conditions is scarce. In this study, sensitivity to gamma radiation was compared in young seedlings of the conifers Scots pine and Norway spruce and the herbaceous Arabidopsis thaliana by exposure to 60Co gamma dose rates of 1–540 mGy h−1 for 144 h, as well as 360 h for A. thaliana. Consistent with slightly less prominent shoot apical meristem, in the conifers growth was significantly inhibited with increasing dose rate ≥ 40 mGy h−1. Post-irradiation, the conifers showed dose-rate-dependent inhibition of needle and root development consistent with increasingly disorganized apical meristems with increasing dose rate, visible damage and mortality after exposure to ≥ 40 mGy h−1. Regardless of gamma duration, A. thaliana showed no visible or histological damage or mortality, only delayed lateral root development after ≥ 100 mGy h−1 and slightly, but transiently delayed post-irradiation reproductive development after ≥ 400 mGy h−1. In all species dose-rate-dependent DNA damage occurred following ≥ 1–10 mGy h−1 and was still at a similar level at day 44 post-irradiation. In conclusion, the persistent DNA damage (possible genomic instability) following gamma exposure in all species may suggest that DNA repair is not necessarily mobilized more extensively in A. thaliana than in Norway spruce and Scots pine, and the far higher sensitivity at the organismal and cellular level in the conifers indicates lower tolerance to DNA damage than in A. thaliana.
KeywordsDNA damage Development Growth Ionizing radiation Picea abies Pinus sylvestris
The Norwegian Research Council through its Centre of Excellence funding scheme (Grant 223268/F50) and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (among others PhD scholarship to DB) are acknowledged for financial support. Sincere thanks to Marit Siira and Ida K. Hagen for technical assistance in plant growing and Tone I. Melby and Dr. Marcos Viejo for advices in RT-qPCR analyses. Dr. Elisabeth L. Hansen is acknowledged for assistance in dosimetry work, and Dr. Gunnar Brunborg and staff members at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health for providing expertise and scoring facility for the COMET assay.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.
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