Morphological defects in native Japanese fir trees around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

Yoshito Watanabe, San’ei Ichikawa, Masahide Kubota, Junko Hoshino, Yoshihisa Kubota, Kouichi Maruyama, Shoichi Fuma, Isao Kawaguchi, Vasyl I. Yoschenko & Satoshi Yoshida
Scientific Reports 5, Article number: 13232 (2015)

After the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (F1NPP) in March 2011, much attention has been paid to the biological consequences of the released radionuclides into the surrounding area. We investigated the morphological changes in Japanese fir, a Japanese endemic native conifer, at locations near the F1NPP. Japanese fir populations near the F1NPP showed a significantly increased number of morphological defects, involving deletions of leader shoots of the main axis, compared to a control population far from the F1NPP. The frequency of the defects corresponded to the radioactive contamination levels of the observation sites. A significant increase in deletions of the leader shoots became apparent in those that elongated after the spring of 2012, a year after the accident. These results suggest possibility that the contamination by radionuclides contributed to the morphological defects in Japanese fir trees in the area near the F1NPP.