The study of radiation effect in Caenorhabditis (C.) elegans has been carried out over three decades and now allow for understanding at the molecular, cellular and individual levels. This review describes the current knowledge of the biological effects of ionizing irradiation with a scope of the germ line, aging and behavior. In germ cells, ionizing radiation induces apoptosis, cell cycle arrest and DNA repair. Lots of molecules involved in these responses and functions have been identified in C. elegans, which are highly conserved throughout eukaryotes. Radiosensitivity and the effect of heavy-ion microbeam irradiation on germ cells with relationship between initiation of meiotic recombination and DNA lesions are discussed. In addition to DNA damage, ionizing radiation produces free radicals, and the free radical theory is the most popular aging theory. A first signal transduction pathway of aging has been discovered in C. elegans, and radiation-induced metabolic oxidative stress is recently noted for an inducible factor of hormetic response and genetic instability. The hormetic response in C. elegans exposed to oxidative stress is dis- cussed with genetic pathways of aging. Moreover, C. elegans is well known as a model organism for behavior. The recent work reported the radiation effects via specific neurons on learning behavior, and radiation and hydrogen peroxide affect the locomotory rate similarly. These findings are discussed in rela- tion to the evidence obtained with other organisms. Altogether, C. elegans may be a good "in vivo" model system in the field of radiation biology.
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