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Effective method for monitoring environmental state in a post-radiation period


Development of a new effective method for monitoring environmental state by investigating changes in biological membrane structures in a post-radiation period after an accident at nuclear power plant (NPP)

Tech Area / Field

  • BIO-CHM/Biochemistry/Biotechnology
  • BIO-RAD/Radiobiology/Biotechnology
  • ENV-EHS/Environmental Health and Safety/Environment
  • ENV-MRA/Modelling and Risk Assessment/Environment
  • ENV-WPC/Water Pollution and Control/Environment
  • MED-DID/Diagnostics & Devices/Medicine
  • MED-DIS/Disease Surveillance/Medicine
  • MED-RAD/Radiomedicine/Medicine

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Nakanishi A

Leading Institute
Yerevan State University, Armenia, Yerevan


  • Tufts University, USA, MA, Medford\nNational Institute for Materials Science, Japan, Tsukuba\nUniversity of Massachusetts, USA, MA, Amherst\nBG Medicine, Inc., USA, MA, Waltham\nUniversity of Leicester / Department of Mathematics, UK, Leicester\nTohoku University / Graduate School of Life Sciences, Japan, Sendai\nUniversity of East Anglia, UK, Norwich\nTokyo Institute of Technology, Japan, Tokyo

Project summary

Structural and functional changes in the cell membranes of live organisms and, in particular, the plasma membranes of red blood cells, soil bacteria, and the cells of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) have been observed under various environmental stresses, in particular, external radiation exposure. Detection and characterization of certain such changes may serve as potent indicators for the effective monitoring of an environment in a post-radiation period. Toward this end, we have conducted research on the mechanisms of morphological and structural (size and shape) changes of intact red blood cells (erythrocytes), as well as on cell membranes of bacteria, that have been exposed to radiation.1 The influence of different types of radiation, including background radiation, also causes changes in the functional and morphological characteristics of hemopoiesis cells, affecting the state of the plasma membrane and other subcellular structures. Changes in the status of inpidual hemopoiesis lines may break the membrane structure elements of the peripheral blood, which creates an additional basis for the development of research methods and control of the kinetics of cell populations in a hematopoietic system exposed to external stresses due to radiation.
We have previously identified specific structural changes in the plasma membrane of red blood cells in patients diagnosed with Familial Mediterranean Fever and myocardial infarction in order to simultaneously study the structural frame and liquid crystalline state of erythrocyte membrane phospholipids and bacterial cells. In these case, we applied the following physical methods: X-ray analysis and optical polarization microscopy. Within the framework of the present Project, the primarily task will be, using previously obtained data on changes of skeletal membrane under the influence of radiation, to create a method for monitoring the state of the environment through the study of changes in the membrane structure of biological systems in the post-radiation period, such as after accidental radiation escape at a nuclear power plant (NPP). This will allow us to identify the state of live organisms and plants in the exposed area of ​​the accident, by identifying characteristic of modified structure of cell membranes of the bacteria in the soil, and to monitor and assess the degree of radiation present in the soil. Through the use of physical methods we aim to determine the interdependence between functional and structural changes in erythrocyte membranes and bacterial cells under the influence of radiation as a function of differing doses and ranges.
Using the above-discussed physical methods, the study of structural and functional changes in the plasma membranes of red blood cells and bacteria cells will allow identifying the specific mechanisms of action of radiation and, therefore, evaluation of the magnitude and specifics of radiation-induced changes occurring in the environment, in real-time.
Understanding the subtle mechanisms by which different ranges of radiation affect experimentally obtained data on structural and functional changes in the plasma membrane of red blood cells and bacterial cells, using physical methods (along with biophysical methods), will form the basis of the development of new, inexpensive, and widely applicable methods of early assessment of irradiation damage in biological systems and ecosystems, assessment of damage severity, and monitoring of effects of environmental exposure. The data obtained on the mechanisms of the effects of radiation on the structural characteristics of erythrocyte membranes will also allow the adjustment of treatment methods of radiation exposure in humans, by providing more accurate determination of threshold doses, time of exposure, etc.
Additionally the study of structural and functional changes in the skeletal membrane of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) as a result of radiation exposure will provide a novel methodology to assess the state of coastal waters as a result of accidental radiation leakage in the proximity of nuclear power plants.1


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


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