Radiation and Environmental Biophysics

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 1–19 | Cite as

Effects of sparsely and densely ionizing radiation on plants

  • Veronica De Micco
  • Carmen Arena
  • Diana Pignalosa
  • Marco Durante


One of the main purposes leading botanists to investigate the effects of ionizing radiations is to understand plant behaviour in space, where vegetal systems play an important role for nourishment, psychological support and functioning of life support systems. Ground-based experiments have been performed with particles of different charge and energy. Samples exposed to X- or γ-rays are often used as reference to derive the biological efficiency of different radiation qualities. Studies where biological samples are exposed directly to the space radiation environment have also been performed. The comparison of different studies has clarified how the effects observed after exposure are deeply influenced by several factors, some related to plant characteristics (e.g. species, cultivar, stage of development, tissue architecture and genome organization) and some related to radiation features (e.g. quality, dose, duration of exposure). In this review, we report main results from studies on the effect of ionizing radiations, including cosmic rays, on plants, focusing on genetic alterations, modifications of growth and reproduction and changes in biochemical pathways especially photosynthetic behaviour. Most of the data confirm what is known from animal studies: densely ionizing radiations are more efficient in inducing damages at several different levels, in comparison with sparsely ionizing radiation.


Photosynthetic Apparatus Relative Biological Effectiveness Radiation Quality Micronucleus Formation Mammalian Study 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Veronica De Micco
    • 1
  • Carmen Arena
    • 2
  • Diana Pignalosa
    • 3
  • Marco Durante
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Arboricoltura, Botanica e Patologia VegetaleUniversità degli Studi di Napoli Federico IIPortici (Naples)Italy
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Biologia Strutturale e FunzionaleUniversità degli Studi di Napoli Federico IINaplesItaly
  3. 3.Department of BiophysicsGSI Helmholtzzentrum für SchwerionenforschungDarmstadtGermany
  4. 4.Institut für Festkörperphysik, Technische Universität DarmstadtDarmstadtGermany

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