The emission of radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation (EMR) by various wireless communication base stations has increased in recent years. While there is wide concern about the effects of EMR on humans and animals, the influence of EMR on plants is not well understood. In this study, we investigated the effect of EMR on the growth dynamics of Myriophyllum aquaticum (Parrot feather) by measuring the nanometric elongation rate fluctuation (NERF) using a statistical interferometry technique. Plants were exposed to 2 GHz EMR at a maximum of 1.42 Wm(-2) for 1 h. After continuous exposure to EMR, M. aquaticum plants exhibited a statistically significant 51 ± 16% reduction in NERF standard deviation. Temperature observations revealed that EMR exposure did not cause dielectric heating of the plants. Therefore, the reduced NERF was due to a non-thermal effect caused by EMR exposure. The alteration in NERF continued for at least 2.5 h after EMR exposure and no significant recovery was found in post-EMR NERF during the experimental period.
Keywords: electromagnetic radiation; growth dynamics; non-thermal; plant stress; statistical interferometry; wireless communication.