1. PST Bulletin; 2. Re: emf effects on plants

Dr. Magaly Rincon frinconm at nexus.mwsu.edu
Tue Feb 11 08:51:25 EST 1997

In response to the electromagnetic study, I would like to share a story
about this intriguing problem.  Three years ago a student in my botany class
approached me and told me that it was imprinted in her mind memories of
growing up in a farm community in Kentucky that in a corn field plants that
grew under power lines were smaller than those that were not.  Then 15 years
later, she read or found out that the rate of cancer in this community was
very high.  Thus, she wanted to do an experiment related to this problem for
her botany project which all students must design and conduct during the
semester.  She used the rapid-cycling Brassica rapa which are the plants of
choice in this class.  She position a small magnet close to the apical
meristem for several days.  It was difficult because she had to change the
position of the magnet as the plants grew.  The effect was very dramatic,
the plants were stunted and did not flower (these plants flower in 14 days
after germination).  Thus she enrrolled in special problems in biology to
work in my lab.  She found a larger magnet and instead she exposed the seeds
to the magnetic field.  The results were different this time (off course);
the seeds germinated faster and the growth rate of the plants was greater
than that of the controls.  Also, they showed heavy accumulation of
anthocyanins in the stems and leaves.  We were very excited about these
results.  I told her that she had to repeated with more than five plants!
She got wrapped up in trying to find a larger magnet or an electromagnet.
To make the story short, she then quit school. I hope to get another
undergraduate student interested in this problem.

Any ideas?

Thank you


>>>>Our group has investigated the response of simple plants to ion cyclotron
>>>>resonance combinations of AC and DC magnetic fields. References to this
>>>>work include:  Smith, McLeod and Liboff, Bioelectricity and Bioenergetics
>>>>32:67, 1993; Bioelectricity and Bioenergetics 38: 161, 1995. Regling et al
>>>>successfully replicated this work (on radishes), presenting an abstract at
>>>>the 1995 FASEB meeting in Atlanta. Their work either has or will appear in
>>>>print shortly, but I do not know the journal. Another successful
>>>>replication of our work was carried out by Davies (Bioelectromagnetics
>>>>17:154, 1996).I have been informed that still another group has been unable
>>>>to replicate our findings.
>>>>In unpublished studies we have also observed large changes in growth in
>>>>orchid mericlones. However it is clear that some care must be taken in
>>>>carefully maintaining the specific cyclotron resonance field combination.
>>>>The ion cyclotron resonance approach uses an AC/DC parallel field
>>>>combination where the ratio of the radial frequency of the AC field to the
>>>>DC intensity is equal to the charge-to-mass ratio of unhydrated ions such
>>>>as Ca2+, Mg2+, and K+. This approach has been used in dozens of experiments
>>>>involving animal behavior and cell culture, often with significant changes.
>>>>As with the plant experiments there have been more positive experiments
>>>>than negatives. It is likely that the cell signaling apparatus is
>>>>stimulated under exposure to these ion cyclotron resonance magnetic
>>>>exposures. (There are similar aspects to cell signaling in both plants and
>>>>in animals).
>>>>It is usual to set the resonant field combination to the charge-to-mass
>>>>ratio of the calcium ion, although there are interesting effects for other
>>>>ionic charge-to-mass ratios.
>>>>This type of experiment may be a bit more than can be handled in a science
>>>>fair project, since there are some constraints on the quality of equipment.
>>>>Another, perhaps simpler approach might be to try using larger (say 1mT or
>>>>greater) magnetic fields in an attempt to induct electric currents into the
>>>>plant. The person whose references you should look for is W. Gensler, for
>>>>example in Ann NY Acad Sci 238:280, 1974. Although Gensler and others
>>>>attached electrodes directly to the plants, it is reasonable to assume that
>>>>the same thing could be accomplished by means of noninvasive magnetic
>>>>One such experiment that I always wanted to do was to grow plants in a
>>>>large, not-too-uniform, DC magnetic field and make the leaves move using a
>>>>rotating fan m few meters away. This was suggested to me many years ago by
>>>>Mother Nature, when I first observed the action of leaf movement in quaking
>>>>aspens in Colorado, Other trees and shrubs also respond to the wind, moving
>>>>their leaves in neat ways, although less than aspen. The geomagnetic field
>>>>seems too weak to make a case for induced currents, and I am sure that
>>>>there are other good biological reasons why leaves were designed to
>>>>oscillate as they do, reasons not involving Faraday induction, but the
>>>>observation is still an interesting one. If you cannot find a big
>>>>electromagnet and its power supply, then maybe you could be creative in
>>>>using a bunch of the small, high-coercive force neodymium/iron/boron
>>>>magnets. They are readily avilable in physics teaching environments, and
>>>>are relatively inexpensive.
>>>>Most important, I do not know of anyone else who has ever attempted this
>>>>experiment. Good luck!
>>>>A.R. Liboff
>>>>Department of Physics
>>>>Oakland university
>>>>(810) 370-3412
>>>>liboff at oakland.edu
>>>> .
>>>        Hopefully more people than our young science fair project planner can
>>>get behind a study like this!
>Magaly Rincon-Zachary
>Dept of Biology
>Midwestern State University
>3410 Taft Blvd.
>Wichita Falls, TX 76308
>PH: (817) 689-4254
>Fax: (817) 689-4689
>E-mail: frinconm at nexus.mwsu.edu

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