Medical/biological study (experimental study)

Plant sensitivity to low intensity 105 GHz electromagnetic radiation.

Published in: Bioelectromagnetics 2004; 25 (6): 403-407

Aim of study (acc. to author)

To study the effects of electromagnetic irradiation in the 100 GHz range on plants.
Background/further details: A sensitive experimental system was used: week-old seedlings of flax are subjected to a temporary calcium deprivation. This results in the production of epidermal meristems (meristems are small groups of actively dividing cells) in the hypocotyls (part of the stem between the root and the first leaves), typically 10-20 meristems after a month, provided the seedlings have previously undergone an exposure to different stresses or stimuli (such as drought or cold shock). In control experiments designed to minimize these stresses, the mean number of meristems produced per plant is 0 or 1 after subjecting seedling to calcium deprivation. Recently, the authors have shown that irradiation from a global system for mobile communication (GSM) telephone also triggers production of meristems with a plateau of around six meristems.


  • effects on plants/number of meristems


Exposure Parameters
Exposure 1: 105 GHz
Exposure duration: continuous for 2 h
Exposure 1
Main characteristics
Frequency 105 GHz
Exposure duration continuous for 2 h
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Distance between exposed object and exposure source 25 cm
Setup Seedling irradiation was carried out using a 50 mW Gunn oscillator mounted 25 cm above them. The output angle of the beam was 12°, leading to an estimated mean power density of the order of 10 W/m² at the base of the hypocotyls.
Additional info Seedlings were exposed to radiation on day 6, followed by calcium deprivation during days 7 and 8. The following controls were performed: (1) irradiation without the calcium deprivation step, (2) no irradiation but inclusion of the calcium deprivation step, and (3) no irradiation and no calcium deprivation. All culture boxes (control and experimental) were placed in the same culture room. For irradiation the corresponding boxes were carefully carried to another culture room and taken back again.
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
power density 10 W/m² mean estimated - -
Measurement and calculation details
The output power was monitored using a Golay cell millimeter wave detector with a detection area of 1.22 cm². The power distribution across the area occupied by the sample was measured using the Golay detector and found to vary by less that ±25% from the center to the periphery of the irradiated area with no other hot spots discernable. The absolute power level incident at the sample was calibrated against an absolute power meter (having an accuracy of ±10%) placed at 25 cm from the end of the Gunn oscillator feed horn.
Exposed system:
  • plant
  • flax (Linum usitatissimum L. var Ariane)
  • whole body

Methods Endpoint/measurement parameters/methodology

  • number of meristems (small groups of actively dividing cells) in the hypocotyls (part of the stem between the root and the first leaves) of the seedlings as a function of time (light microscopy)
Investigated material:
  • hypocotyls (part of the stem between the root and the first leaves)
Time of investigation:
  • after exposure

Main outcome of study (acc. to author)

A single 2 h exposure at 105 GHz at non-thermal levels induces meristem production with kinetics similar to that induced by weak environmental stimuli and irradiation from GSM telephone: seedlings produced an average of 7 meristems 3 weeks after the end of the calcium deprivation.
Study character:

Study funded by

  • Ministère délégué à l'Enseignement supérieur et à la Recherche (Ministry of National Education and Research), France

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