Space radiation effects on plant and mammalian cells

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The study of the effects of ionizing radiation on organisms is related to different research aims. This review emphasizes the studies on the effects of different doses of sparsely and densely ionizing radiation on living organisms, with the final purpose of highlighting specific and common effects of space radiation in mammals and plants. This topic is extremely relevant in the context of radiation protection from space environment. The response of different organisms to ionizing radiation depends on the radiation quality/dose and/or the intrinsic characteristics of the living system. Macromolecules, in particular DNA, are the critical targets of radiation, even if there is a strong difference between damages encountered by plant and mammalian cells. The differences in structure and metabolism between the two celltypes are responsible for the higher resistance of the plantcell compared with its animal counterpart. In this review, we report some recent findings from studies performed in Space or on Earth, simulating space-like levels of radiation with groundbased facilities, to understand the effect of ionizing radiation on mammalian and plant cells. In particular, our attention is focused on genetic alterations and repair mechanisms in mammalian cells and on structures and mechanisms conferring radioresistance to plant cells.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-431
JournalActa Astronautica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


  • DNA damage, hormesis, microgravity, photosynthesis and plant anatomy, radioresistance, space radiation

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