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Aquat Toxicol. 2004 Dec 20;70(4):327-43.

Physiological cost of tolerance to toxicants in the European flounder Platichthys flesus, along the French Atlantic Coast.

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Laboratoire des Sciences de l'Environnement Marin, UMR 6539 CNRS/UBO, Institut Universitaire Européen de la Mer, Technopole Brest Iroise, Place Nicolas Copernic, 29280 Plouzané, France.


Physiological and genetic responses of flounder Platichthys flesus populations were investigated along the French Atlantic Coast in one moderately contaminated estuary (Ster) and three contaminated estuaries (Seine, Loire and Gironde). The focus of this study was to explore the relationship between stress resistance and energetic trade-offs, in order to detect possible differential physiological capacities or performances between individuals carrying particular alleles or genotypes (allozyme data) characterised as "tolerant" or "sensitive". A general reduction of the relative fecundity, the growth rate and the condition factor was highlighted in contaminated fish populations, suggesting that survival in such polluted systems implies energetic costs for fish thus reducing the energy available for particular functions. A lower observed heterozygosity was also detected in contaminated populations with respect to the Ster, suggesting a general decrease in genetic variability in response to chemical stress (with an exception for the Seine estuary). This study confirmed the previously detected relationship between PGM 85, AAT1 95 alleles and reduced DNA damage in contaminated fish [Marchand, J., Tanguy, A., Laroche, J., Quiniou, L., Moraga, D., 2003. Responses of European flounder Platichthys flesus populations to contamination in different estuaries along the Atlantic coast of France. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 260, 273-284] and furthermore suggested that, reduced fecundity and condition factor associated to the individuals carrying the previous alleles, were also reflecting the cost of resistance to stress in polluted populations. The cost of tolerance to stress as well as the high gene flow from neighbouring populations less exposed to contamination may explain the apparently moderate increase of the suspected "tolerant" alleles in contaminated flounder populations.

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