Correlation of Nuclear Volume and DNA Content with Higher Plant Tolerance to Chronic Radiation

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Science  28 Jul 1961:
Vol. 134, Issue 3474, pp. 282-283
DOI: 10.1126/science.134.3474.282


The causes of extreme differences in radiosensitivities of different plant (or animal) species have long puzzled radiobiologists. Our investigations show that, for diploid species, the larger the nuclear volume, the more radiosensitive the organism. Correspondingly, species with large nuclei have more deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) per nucleus than those possessing small nuclei. Our data now make it possible to predict fairly accurately the tolerance of plant species to ionizing radiation on the basis of average nuclear volume and DNA content. The same correlations are expected to hold for some microorganisms and for animals and may explain differences in sensitivities of different cell types in many living organisms.