The morphophysiological response of Phaseolus vulgaris L. to low-power electromagnetic radiation was investigated in order to assess the potential harmful effects of long-term continuous exposure. The plants were grown in two separate electromagnetic field (EMF) shielded rooms, in a controlled, greenhouse-like environment. One batch was continuously irradiated during the growth period (from sowing to maturity) and the other one was used as a reference. An unmodulated signal at 915 MHz (the central frequency between the uplink and downlink of the GSM900 mobile communications band) was used, with a maximum power density of 10 mW/m2 measured near the plants. The plants were analyzed using ultraviolet-visible, statistical, morphometric, and electron microscopy methods. Significant differences were observed regarding the height of the plants, number of inflorescences, and chlorophyll and carotenoid content, all closely connected with the ultrastructural changes observed in the leaves. The irradiated batch grew higher (19% increase in plant height, 20% increase in stem and leaves' dry mass), with 18% fewer inflorescences, and extremely long roots (34% increase in dry mass). The ultrastructure of the irradiated leaves showed irregular cells and a higher content of plastoglobules in the chloroplasts. All results indicate that the irradiated plants suffered significant morphological modifications during their long-term exposure to the specific EM radiation. Bioelectromagnetics. © 2020 Bioelectromagnetics Society.
Keywords: chlorophyll and carotenoid content; electron microscopy; leaf ultrastructure; non-ionizing radiation; plant growth.
© 2020 Bioelectromagnetics Society.