Studies of the biological effects of radiation are often long-term projects, as radioisotopes that produce ionizing radiation that impacts organisms tend to have long half-lives. Seven years have passed since the Fukushima, Japan, nuclear power plant accident caused by the Tohoku Earthquake. Following that event, several researchers reported on their studies of some of the biological effects of radiation on wild plant and animal species in a special Journal of Heredity collection, “Outcomes of Fukushima: Biological Effects of Radiation on Nonhuman Species” (Hayashi et al. 2014; Mousseau and Moller 2014; Steen and Mousseau 2014; Taira et al. 2014). Here, we provide a second set of reports focused on further studies on these organisms, as well as descriptions of new research directions. Historically, the biological effects of ionizing radiation have been studied in laboratory animals, most frequently Drosophila or mice, or were reported from cancer patients who had received radiation therapies. Since the time of the nuclear accidents in Chernobyl and Fukushima, however, some ecologists and geneticists have moved away from traditional approaches to study radiation impacts on wild species and plants. A key hypothesis for their studies has been that restricted settings such as laboratories might not give complete insight into the effects on natural ecosystems of contamination by ionizing radiation due to nuclear accidents. Conservation biologists seek accurate and valid data on radiation impacts in the wild rather than laboratory settings to protect wild populations in affected areas such as Fukushima. For instance, in the spring of 2017, the Primate Society of Japan published an “Appeal from the Primate Society of Japan on the monitoring of the effect of exposure to radioactive substances to wild Japanese macaques” (http://primate-society.com/activities/2017appeal/). Five articles are included in this special issue. The Otaki laboratory has been studying the Fukushima population of the pale grass blue butterfly, Zizeeria maha, to evaluate biological impacts of radiation since shortly after the nuclear accident occurred in March 2011 (Taira et al. 2014). Otaki and Taira (2018) summarize these studies in the current issue, and respond to criticisms by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. In a second article from the same group, Nohara et al. (2018) examine whether these butterflies have become adapted for robustness in the contaminated environment. Akimoto et al. (2018) report on their research concerning embryogenesis and hatching in the aphid Prociphilus oriens in relation to levels of ionizing radiation of Fukushima soil and moss following the accident. These authors contend that their studies show significant impacts on embryogenesis of even low-dose radiation. Rakwal et al. (2018), using “multi-omic” approaches, report “adaptions” of rice plants in low-dose radiation areas compared to data from the same region immediately following the radiation event. In the final article of the collection, Zhang and Steen (2018) propose a tri-faceted approach, studying the biological effects of ionizing radiation through observing interactions between ionizing radiation, host immune systems, and gut microbiomics. A fundamental outcome of ionizing radiation is damage to DNA strands leading to mutation. Further studies of mutation rates, DNA repair mechanisms, and comparisons of generation times of sample species are needed to observe actual processes at the genetic level of “adaption” under ionizing radiation over short time periods. Continuous studies on wild species are crucial to understanding the overall impacts of ionizing radiation at various levels, and for protection of residents and wild species in Fukushima and all other areas where impacts of ionizing radiation are of concern. Acknowledgement The author would like to thank Professor Shoji Kawamura, University of Tokyo for valuable input and discussions. References Akimoto S-i, Li Y, Imanaka T, Sato H, Ishida K. 2018. Effects of radiation from contaminated soil and moss in Fukushima on embryogenesis and egg hatching of the aphid Prociphilus oriens. J Hered . 109: 199– 205. Hayashi G, Shibato J, Imanaka T, Cho K, Kubo A, Kikuchi S, Satoh K, Kimura S, Ozawa S, Fukutani Set al. 2014. Unraveling low-level gamma radiation–responsive changes in expression of early and late genes in leaves of rice seedlings at Iitate Village, Fukushima. J Hered . 105: 723– 738. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed Mousseau TA, Møller AP. 2014. Genetic and ecological studies of animals in Chernobyl and Fukushima. J Hered . 105: 704– 709. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed Nohara C, Hiyama A, Taira W, Otaki JM. 2018. Robustness and radiation resistance of the pale grass blue butterfly from radioactively contaminated areas: a possible case of adaptive evolution. J Hered . 109: 188– 198. Otaki JM, Taira W. 2018. Current status of the blue butterfly in Fukushima research. J Hered . 109: 178– 187. Rakwal R, Hayashi G, Shibato J, Deepak SA, Gundimeda S, Simha U, Padmanaban A, Gupta R, Han S-I, Kim ST, et al. . 2018. Progress toward rice seed OMICS in low-level gamma radiation environment in Iitate village, Fukushima. J Hered . 109: 206– 211. Steen TY, Mousseau T. 2014. Outcomes of Fukushima: biological effects of radiation on nonhuman species. J Hered . 105: 702– 703. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed Taira W, Nohara C, Hiyama A, Otaki JM. 2014. Fukushima’s biological impacts: the case of the pale grass blue butterfly. J Hered . 105: 710– 722. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed Zhang A, Steen TY. 2018. Gut microbiomics—a solution to unloose the Gordian knot of biological effects of ionizing radiation. J Hered . 109: 212– 221. © The American Genetic Association 2018. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: email@example.com
Journal of Heredity – Oxford University Press
Published: Mar 1, 2018
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