Cosmic radiation and evolution of life on earth: roles of environment, adaptation and selection

Adv Space Res. 1994 Oct;14(10):305-13. doi: 10.1016/0273-1177(94)90483-9.


The role of ionizing radiation in general, and cosmic radiation in particular, in the evolution of organisms on the earth by adaptation and natural selection is considered in a series of questions: (1) Are there times during the evolution of the earth and of life when genetic material could be exposed to heavy ion radiation? (2) Throughout the course of chemical and biological evolution on the earth, what fraction of environmental mutagenesis could be attributable to cosmic and/or solar ionizing radiation? (3) Is ionizing radiation an agent of adaptation or selection, or both? (4) What can the cladistics of the evolution of genetic repair tell us about the global history of genotoxic selection pressures? (5) How much genetic diversity can be attributed to the selection of radiation-damage repair processes?

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Cosmic Radiation*
  • DNA Repair*
  • DNA Replication / radiation effects
  • Earth, Planet
  • Mutagenesis / radiation effects*
  • Mutation
  • Origin of Life*
  • Plants
  • Radiation Tolerance