Description: Considerable information is available on the effects of radioactivity on adult and early life stages of organisms. The preponderance of data is on mortality after a single irradiation with relatively high doses. Unfortunately, because experiments were carried out under different conditions and for different time periods, the validity of comparing the results from different laxonomic groups is questionable. In general, the conclusions are that there is a relationship (1) between radioresistance to high doses of acute radiation and taxonomy of the organism, primitive forms being more radioresistant than complex vertebrates and (2) between radiosensitivity and developmental stage, early life stages being more sensitive than later stages. The first conclusion may be related to the capability of the organism to repopulate cells and to differentiate and redifferentiate them; the second to the rate of cellular division and to the degree of differentiation. In question, however, is the relevance of the responses from high levels of acute radiation to that of the responses to long-term exposure to low levels of radiation, which are ecologically of more interest. Data from studies of the effects of acute and chronic exposure on development of gametes and zygotes indicate that, for some fishes and invertebrates, responses at the cellular and molecular levels show effect levels comparable to those observed in some mammals. Acute doses between 0,05 and 0.5Cy and dose rates between 0.02 to 0.2mCy/h appear to define critical ranges in which detrimental effects on fertility are first observed in a variety of radiosensitive organisms. To better understand inherent radiosensitivity, we need more information on the ability of cells to repopulate and differentiate and to prevent or repair damage to biological critical molecules, such as DNA, because these factors may alter significantly organisms` responses to radiation.
Date: November 1, 1996
Creator: Harrison, F.L. & Anderson, S.L.
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