Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 2017 Jul 21;141:148-153. Epub 2017 Mar 21.
Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biologia Celular e Molecular Aplicada, Universidade de Pernambuco (UPE), Brazil; Laboratório de Genética, Centro Acadêmico de Vitória, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (UFPE), Brazil. Electronic address:
Natural radiation of geological origin is a common phenomenon in Brazil, a country where radioactive agents such as uranium may be often found. As an unstable atom, uranium undergoes radioactive decay with the generation of a series of decay by-products, including radon, which may be highly genotoxic and trigger several pathological processes, among which cancer. Because it is a gas, radon may move freely between cracks and gaps in the ground, seeping upwards into the buildings and in the environment. In this study, two Drosophila melanogaster Meigen (Diptera, Drosophilidae) strains called Oregon-R and Wild (collected in a non-radioactive environment) were exposed to atmospheric radiation in the Lajes Pintadas city, in the semiarid zone of northeastern Brazil. After six days of environmental exposure, the organisms presented genetic damage significantly higher than that of the negative control group. The genotoxic effects observed reinforce the findings of other studies carried out in the same region, which warn about the environmental risks related to natural radioactivity occurrence. The results also validate the use of the Comet assay in hemocytes of D. melanogaster as a sensitive test to detect genotoxicity caused by natural radiation, and the use of a recently collected D. melanogaster strain in the environmental of radon.