Exposure to radiofrequency radiation induces oxidative stress in duckweed Lemna minor L

Sci Total Environ. 2007 Dec 15;388(1-3):78-89. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2007.07.052. Epub 2007 Sep 7.


Widespread use of radiofrequency radiation emitting devices increased the exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from 300 MHz to 300 GHz. Various biological effects of exposure to these fields have been documented so far, but very little work has been carried out on plants. The aim of the present work was to investigate the physiological responses of the plant Lemna minor after exposure to radiofrequency EMFs, and in particular, to clarify the possible role of oxidative stress in the observed effects. Duckweed was exposed for 2 h to EMFs of 400 and 900 MHz at field strengths of 10, 23, 41 and 120 V m(-1). The effect of a longer exposure time (4 h) and modulation was also investigated. After exposure, parameters of oxidative stress, such as lipid peroxidation, H(2)O(2) content, activities and isoenzyme pattern of antioxidative enzymes as well as HSP70 expression were evaluated. At 400 MHz, lipid peroxidation and H(2)O(2) content were significantly enhanced in duckweed exposed to EMFs of 23 and 120 V m(-1) while other exposure treatments did not have an effect. Compared to the controls, the activities of antioxidative enzymes showed different behaviour: catalase (CAT) activity increased after most exposure treatments while pyrogallol (PPX) and ascorbate peroxidase (APX) activities were not changed. Exceptions were reduced PPX and APX activity after longer exposure at 23 V m(-1) and increased PPX activity after exposures at 10 and 120 V m(-1). By contrast, at 900 MHz almost all exposure treatments significantly increased level of lipid peroxidation and H(2)O(2) content but mostly decreased PPX activity and did not affect CAT activity. Exceptions were exposures to a modulated field and to the field of 120 V m(-1) which increased PPX and CAT activity. At this frequency APX activity was significantly decreased after exposure at 10 V m(-1) and longer exposure at 23 V m(-1) but it increased after a shorter exposure at 23 V m(-1). At both frequencies no differences in isoenzyme patterns of antioxidative enzymes or HSP70 level were found between control and exposed plants. Our results showed that non-thermal exposure to investigated radiofrequency fields induced oxidative stress in duckweed as well as unspecific stress responses, especially of antioxidative enzymes. However, the observed effects markedly depended on the field frequencies applied as well as on other exposure parameters (strength, modulation and exposure time). Enhanced lipid peroxidation and H(2)O(2) content accompanied by diminished antioxidative enzymes activity caused by exposure to investigated EMFs, especially at 900 MHz, indicate that oxidative stress could partly be due to changed activities of antioxidative enzymes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Araceae / metabolism
  • Araceae / radiation effects*
  • Ascorbate Peroxidases
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / metabolism
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Peroxidases / metabolism
  • Pyrogallol / metabolism


  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Pyrogallol
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Peroxidases
  • Ascorbate Peroxidases
  • Catalase