1022-7954/01/3712- $25.00 © 2001
Russian Journal of Genetics, Vol. 37, No. 12, 2001, pp. 1455–1458. Translated from Genetika, Vol. 37, No. 12, 2001, pp. 1725–1728.
Original Russian Text Copyright © 2001 by Bulanova, Synzynys, Koz’min.
Previously, it was commonly believed that alumi-
num was harmless for humans, plants, and animals.
Indeed, aluminum is the third most abundant element in
the Earth crust (8.8%), surpassed only by oxygen and
silicon, and the most abundant metal . Owing to its
reactivity, aluminum quickly forms insoluble com-
pounds, which do not penetrate into cells and tissues
and thus is practically safe for plants and animals. How-
ever, in particular cases, such as acid rains, aluminum
can become soluble and react with biological mole-
cules, modifying them and suppressing their functions
We had no direct evidence for aluminum interaction
with DNA or suppression of DNA function by alumi-
num in plants. Therefore, an indirect cytogenetic effect
of aluminum ions could be merely conjectured on data
on its interaction with components of cellular mem-
branes in wheat seedling cells .
The purpose of the present study was to ﬁnd out
whether structural chromosome aberrations appear in
wheat apical meristem cells and, if they do, to investi-
gate their range and concentration dependence of their
yield. Potassium salts and gamma irradiation were cho-
sen as control agents.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Seeds of the Elit wheat variety were germinated in
petri dishes in solutions of Al
of preset concentrations at 25
C for 48 h.
Irradiated seeds and seeds grown in distilled water
under the same conditions were used as control. Dry-
irradiated seeds were germinated 24 h after irradiation on
an Issledovatel’ device at 50 Gy (dose rate 43 Gy/min) at
the Medical Radiological Research Center, Russian
Academy of Medical Sciences.
Samples of 10 roots of germinated seeds reaching
the length of 5–10 mm were ﬁxed in the ethanol–acetic
acid system (3 : 1) at 4
C for 2–12 h. Squashed prepa-
rations were obtained from the apical root meristem
and stained with acetic orcein.
Microscopic examination was performed with an
MBI-15-2 microscope at a magniﬁcation of 900. All
anaphase and telophase cells were examined in each
preparation, and the percentages of cells with chromo-
some aberrations were recorded. Aberrations were clas-
siﬁed according to . Chromatid (single) and chromo-
some (double) mutations, bridges, and genomic muta-
tions (chromosome retardation) were identiﬁed. The
mutagenic activity of many chemicals can be most reli-
ably assessed by recording chromatid aberrations in the
ﬁrst metaphase after the treatment. Cells with unidenti-
ﬁable aberrations were excluded from consideration.
Obviously, this resulted in an underestimation of the
number of aberrations per cell. At least 100 anaphase
cells from at least 10 roots were analyzed for each
group. In most cases, the result was obvious without
Experiments were performed with the following
, and the
corresponding potassium salts (KNO
controls. The admixture of sulfates in KNO
exceed 0.004; of phosphates, 0.0003.
The results were processed using standard statistical
procedures with the 95% conﬁdence limits of the mean.
Aluminum Induces Chromosome Aberrations
in Cells of Wheat Root Meristem
N. V. Bulanova, B. I. Synzynys, and G. V. Koz’min
Department of Ecology, Obninsk Institute of Nuclear Power Engineering, Obninsk, 249020 Russia;
Received September 25, 2001; in ﬁnal form, June 14, 2001
—The yield and pattern of chromosome structure aberrations in wheat seedlings treated with alumi-
num nitrate and aluminum sulfate at various concentrations have been determined by the anaphase method.
Aluminum has a genotoxic effect causing genome, chromatid, and chromosome aberrations in apical root mer-
istem cells. The relationship between the total yield of structural mutations and the aluminum concentration fol-
lows a bell-shaped curve. The mutagenic activity of aluminum nitrate peaks at 10
mg/ml, which is twice as
high as the permissible concentration limit (PCL) of aluminum in potable water. The maximum of the
mutagenic activity of aluminum sulfate is observed at
mg/ml, i.e., one PCL. Tap water boiled for 2 h
in an aluminum vessel has virtually no genotoxic effect on wheat cells.