The free radicals produced from the irradiation of hydrated DNA with a heavy-ion beam have been investigated by ESR spectroscopy. The dominant free radical species formed after 60 MeV/nucleon${}^{16}{\rm O}{}^{8+}$ ion-beam irradiations at low temperatures (77 K) are the same as those previously identified from studies using low-LET radiation, pyrimidine electron-gain radicals and purine electron-loss radicals; however, greater relative amounts of neutral carbon-centered radicals are found with the higher-LET radiation, and a new phosphorus-centered radical is identified. The fraction of neutral carbon radicals is also found to increase along the ion-beam track with the highest amounts found in the Bragg peak. The neutral carbon-centered radicals likely arise in part from the sugar moiety. The G values found for total trapped radicals at 77 K are significantly smaller for the${}^{16}{\rm O}{}^{8+}$ ion beam than those found for low-LET radiation. The new phosphorus-centered radical species is identified by its large31 P parallel hyperfine coupling of about 780 G as a phosphoryl radical. This species is produced linearly with dose and is not found in significant amounts in DNA irradiated with low-LET radiation. The phosphoryl radical must be produced by the fragmentation of a P-O bond and suggests the possibility of a direct strand break. The yield of phosphoryl species is small (about 0.1% of all radicals); however, it clearly indicates that new mechanisms of damage which are not significant for low-LET radiation must be considered for high-LET radiation.

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