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J Environ Radioact. 2008 Oct;99(10):1698-702. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2008.03.013. Epub 2008 Jun 3.

Evaluation of DNA damage in the root cells of Allium cepa seeds growing in soil of high background radiation areas of Ramsar-Iran.

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  • 1Department of Basic Science, Gonabad University of Medical Sciences, Gonabad, Iran.


Plants are unique in their ability to serve as in situ monitors for environmental genotoxins. We have used the alkaline comet assay for detecting induced DNA damage in Allium cepa to estimate the impact of high levels of natural radiation in the soils of inhabited zones of Ramsar. The average specific activity of natural radionuclides measured in the soil samples for 226Ra was 12,766 Bq kg(-1) whereas in the control soils was in the range of 34-60 Bq kg(-1). A positive strong significant correlation of the DNA damage in nuclei of the root cells of A. cepa seeds germinated in the soil of high background radiation areas with 226Ra specific activity of the soil samples was observed. The results showed high genotoxicity of radioactively contaminated soils. Also the linear increase in the DNA damage indicates that activation of repair enzymes is not triggered by exposure to radiation in HBRA.

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