Microbe-mineral interactions in naturally radioactive beach sands from Espirito Santo, Brazil: experiments on mutagenicity

Charles S. Cockell, Harry Tsikos, Marco Durante, John Parnell

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Previous studies on naturally radioactive materials suggested that they can have a mutagenic effect on plants (growing in sands in Kerala, South West India), and on bats (dwelling in an abandoned underground mine of primary monazite ore in Namaqualand, Western Cape, South Africa). We hypothesised, based on previous theoretical work, that radioactive sands would not induce mutants in microorganisms over time scales typical of doubling times in the natural environment. The potential of exceptionally monazite (Th)-rich mineral sands collected from the coast of Espirito Santo, Brazil to induce single-point reversion in Escherichia coli cultures (both repair-competent and repair-deficient strains) was tested using the tryptophan reverse mutation assay. The results show that at least on a short-term scale (1-7 days), the monazite-rich sands did not cause an increase in reversion above background.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-253
Number of pages7
JournalRadiation and Environmental Biophysics
Issue number3
Early online date15 Mar 2007
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2007


  • reverse mutation assay
  • escherichia-coli WP2
  • Kerala coast
  • monazite
  • population
  • strains
  • areas

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