Plants growing in natural environments are exposed to radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (EMR) emitted by various communication network base stations. The environmental concentration of this radiation is increasing rapidly with the congested deployment of base stations. Although numerous scientific studies have been conducted to investigate the effects of EMR on the physiology of humans and animals, there have been few attempts to investigate the effects of EMR on plants. In this study, we attempted to evaluate the effects of EMR on photosynthesis by investigating the chlorophyll fluorescence (ChF) parameters of duckweed fronds. During the experiment, the fronds were tested with 2, 2.5, 3.5, 5.5 and 8 GHz EMR frequencies, which are not widely studied even though there is a potentially large concentration of these frequencies in the environment. The duckweed fronds were exposed to EMR for 30 min, 1 h and 24 h durations with electric field strength of 45-50 V/m for each frequency. The results indicated that exposure to EMR causes a change in the non-photochemical quenching of the duckweeds. The changes varied with the frequency of the EMR and were time-varying within a particular frequency. The temperature remained unchanged in the duckweed fronds upon exposure to EMR, which confirms that the effect is non-thermal.
Keywords: Chlorophyll fluorescence; communication networks; non-thermal; photosystem; radiation; radiofrequency; stress.