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Pine trees around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine, were investigated by light- and electron-microscopy as well as UV-microspectrophotometry in order to find out whether the accident on April 26 in 1986 affected the structure of xylem formed. The analysis of increment cores did not reveal any influence on the amount of xylem formed in 1986, but there was a distinct reduction during the subsequent three years. The xylem formation had recovered in 1990. ʻForkingʼ in the rows of tracheids was frequently seen at the cellular level in the 1986 tree ring. This phenomenon also occurred in the 1987 tree ring, but was less pronounced. It appears that the radioactive irradiation had no direct effect on the cambium in 1986, but affected the differentiation of xylem mother cells. The reduced wood formation between 1987 and 1989 appeared to be a consequence of the massive losses in needles in the year of the accident rather than of the uptake of radiobiologically active elements. The layering and lignification of the tracheid walls were not affected.


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