DNA damage and radiocesium in channel catfish from chernobyl

Derrick W. Sugg, John W. Bickham, Janet A. Brooks, Michael D. Lomakin, Charles H. Jagoe, Cham E. Dallas, Michael H. Smith, Robert J. Baker * and Ronald K. Chesser

Division of Wildlife Ecology and Toxicology, University of Georgia, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, P.O. Drawer E, Aiken, South Carolina 29802, USA

Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843, USA

International Research and Development Agency, P.O. Box 158. 252001, Kiev-1, Ukraine

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA

* Department of Biological Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas 79409, USA

Abstract. The explosion of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant resulted in some of the most radioactively contaminated habitats on earth. Despite evacuation of all human inhabitants from the most contaminated areas, animals and plants continue to thrive in these areas, This study examines the levels of contamination and genetic damage associated with radiocesium in catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) from the cooling pond and a control site. In general, catfish from the cooling pond exhibit greater genetic damage, and the amount of damage is related to the concentration of radiocesium in individual fish. Genetic damage is primary in the form of DNA strand breaks, with few micronuclei being observed in contaminated fish. The possible roles that acclimation and adaptation play in the response to high levels of radiation exposure are discussed.

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