Effects of reduced natural background radiation on Drosophila melanogaster growth and development as revealed by the FLYINGLOW program

Patrizia Morciano, Roberto Iorio, Daniela Iovino, Francesca Cipressa, Giuseppe Esposito, Antonella Porrazzo, Luigi Satta, Edoardo Alesse, Maria Antonella Tabocchini, Giovanni Cenci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Natural background radiation of Earth and cosmic rays played a relevant role during the evolution of living organisms. However, how chronic low doses of radiation can affect biological processes is still unclear. Previous data have indicated that cells grown at the Gran Sasso Underground Laboratory (LNGS, L'Aquila) of National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) of Italy, where the dose rate of cosmic rays and neutrons is significantly reduced with respect to the external environment, elicited an impaired response against endogenous damage as compared to cells grown outside LNGS. This suggests that environmental radiation contributes to the development of defense mechanisms at cellular level. To further understand how environmental radiation affects metabolism of living organisms, we have recently launched the FLYINGLOW program that aims at exploiting Drosophila melanogaster as a model for evaluating the effects of low doses/dose rates of radiation at the organismal level. Here, we will present a comparative data set on lifespan, motility and fertility from different Drosophila strains grown in parallel at LNGS and in a reference laboratory at the University of L'Aquila. Our data suggest the reduced radiation environment can influence Drosophila development and, depending on the genetic background, may affect viability for several generations even when flies are moved back to normal background radiation. As flies are considered a valuable model for human biology, our results might shed some light on understanding the effect of low dose radiation also in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-29
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018


  • ATM
  • background radiation
  • Drosophila
  • LNGS laboratory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of reduced natural background radiation on Drosophila melanogaster growth and development as revealed by the FLYINGLOW program'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this