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Medical/biological study (experimental study)

Electromagnetic fields (900 MHz) evoke consistent molecular responses in tomato plants.

Published in: Physiol Plant 2006; 128 (2): 283-288

Aim of study (acc. to author)

To study whether short exposure (10 minutes) of a plant to a low level radiofrequency electromagnetic field, similar to that used in mobile phones, could evoke a rapid biological response at the molecular level in tomato plants.
Background/further details: In order to determine if there was a dose response relationship between electromagnetic fields applied and the amount of transcript accumulated, plants were also exposed at others doses and durations.
Leaf tissue was harvested at 15, 30, and 60 minutes after exposure (in some experiments also immediately and after 5 minutes).

Endpoint

Exposure

    • mobile communications
    • GSM
Exposure Parameters
Exposure 1: 900 MHz
Modulation type: CW
Exposure duration: continuous for 10 min
Exposure 2: 900 MHz
Modulation type: CW
Exposure duration: continuous for 2 min
Exposure 1
Main characteristics
Frequency 900 MHz
Type
Exposure duration continuous for 10 min
Modulation
Modulation type CW
Exposure setup
Exposure source
  • MSRC
Chamber The MSRC (mode stirred reverberation chamber) consisted of a large room (200 m³) with a double-layered steel wall, acting as a Faraday cage, an antenna, and movable blades to stir the EMF. Tomato plants were grown inside plywood culture chambers. Shielded chambers were enclosed in a polymer mesh covered with aluminium foil to protect the plants from exposure [Vian et al., 2006].
Setup When the plants were 3 weeks old, the whole culture chamber was placed in the MSRC (24 h prior to irradiation) in a determined working volume where the field was homogeneous and isotropic.
Additional info The fourth terminal leaf (exposed and shielded) was harvested at different times after exposure (0, 5, 15, 30, and 60 min).
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
electric field strength 5 V/m - - - average signal amplitude of a GSM phone
electric field strength 40 V/m - - - close to the French legal emission limit
Exposure 2
Main characteristics
Frequency 900 MHz
Type
Exposure duration continuous for 2 min
Modulation
Modulation type CW
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
electric field strength 5 V/m - - - average signal amplitude of a GSM phone
Reference articles
Exposed system:
  • plant
  • tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.)/VFN8
  • whole body

Methods Endpoint/measurement parameters/methodology

Investigated material:
Time of investigation:
  • after exposure

Main outcome of study (acc. to author)

Exposure to the electromagnetic fields induced a biphasic response, in which the levels of all three transcripts increased four- to six-fold 15 min. after the end of exposure, dropped closely to initial levels after 30 min., and then increased again at 60 min. after exposure. Although not identical, the kinetics and amplitudes of the transcripts showed striking similarities with physiologic responses following injurious treatments. Thus, the authors propose that radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure may constitute an environmental stimulus for the tomato plants.
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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