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Biol Sci Space. 1997 Dec;11(4):346-50.

Mutations induced in Drosophila during space flight.

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  • 1Radiation Biology Center, Kyoto University, Japan.


To examine the possible effects of space radiation on living organisms, fruit flies Drosophila melanogaster were loaded on the US Space Shuttle Endeavour, and after the flight we have analyzed two types of mutations, sex-linked recessive lethal mutations induced in male reproductive cells and somatic mutations which give rise to morphological changes in hairs growing on the surface of wing epidermal cells. Wild type strains and a radiation-sensitive strain mei-41 were used. The frequencies of sex-linked recessive lethal mutations in flight groups were 2 and 3 times higher for wild type Canton-S and mei-41 strains, respectively, than those in ground control groups. By contrast, the frequencies of wing-hair somatic mutations differed little between flight and control groups. The possibility that the space environment causes mutations in certain types of cells such as male reproductive cells, is discussed.

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