Volume 43, Number 5, 200836th annual meeting of the European Radiation Research Society
|Number of page(s)||1|
|Section||Oral Presentation - Radiotoxicology and Contamination of Biota|
|Published online||03 September 2008|
Effects of Radioactive Contamination on Plant Populations: a Case of Low Doses and Multipollutant Exposure
Russ. Inst. Agricultural Radiology and Agroecology, Kievskoe shosse, 109 km, 249032 Obninsk, Russian Federation
An assessment of the state of plant and animal populations inhabiting polluted territories and the analysis of mechanisms of their adaptation to adverse environmental conditions undoubtedly has general biological importance. Consequently, studies that examine biological effects on non-human biota in natural settings provide a unique opportunity for obtaining information about the potential biological hazard associated with radioactive contamination. Nevertheless, up to now there is a distinct lack of quantitative data on the real long-term biological consequences of chronic radiation exposure lasting a long period of time. Actually, few studies exist that are directly relevant to understanding the responses of plant and animal populations to radionuclides in their natural environments. The results of long-term field experiments in the 30-km Chernobyl NPP zone, in the vicinity of the radioactive wastes storage facility (Leningrad Region), at radium production industry storage cell territory (the Komi Republic), in the Bryansk Region affected by the Chernobyl accident, and in Semipalatinsk Test Site, Kazakhstan that have been carried out in our laboratory on different species of wild and agricultural plants are discussed. Although radionuclides cause primary damage at the molecular level, there are emergent effects at the level of populations, non-predictable solely from the knowledge of elementary mechanisms of the pollutants influence. Plant populations growing in areas with relatively low levels of pollution are characterized by the increased level of both cytogenetic disturbances and genetic diversity. Man-made pollution may influence an evolution of exposed populations through a contaminant-induced selection process. Radioactive contamination of the plants environment activates genetic mechanisms, changing a populations resistance to exposure. However, in different radioecological situations, genetic adaptation to extreme edaphic conditions in plant populations could be achieved with different rates. These processes have a genetic basis; therefore, understanding changes at the genetic level should help in identifying more complex changes at higher levels.
Key words: biological effects / plant populations / radioactive contamination
© EDP Sciences, 2008
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