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Chemosphere. 2005 Dec;61(8):1189-97. Epub 2005 Apr 19.

Resistance to metal contamination by historically-stressed populations of Ceriodaphnia pulchella: environmental influence versus genetic determination.

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1
Instituto do Ambiente e Vida, Departamento de Zoologia da Universidade de Coimbra, Largo Marquês de Pombal, 3004-517 Coimbra, Portugal.

Abstract

Field populations of daphnids historically-stressed by metal contamination may show increased resistance to those contaminants. This study was undertaken aiming to confirm/infirm three main hypotheses: (1) field populations living in historically-impacted environments are more tolerant to metal stress than populations from reference sites; (2) resistance differences are genetically-determined, i.e., differences persist after controlling for environmental and maternal effects, by acclimating cloned lineages to similar conditions; and (3) resistance to stress in field populations living in historically-impacted environments is due to the disappearance of sensitive individuals rather than the appearance of highly resistant ones, i.e., the shift in the central tendency of resistance is linked to a decrease in the range of population resistance and not to an increased upper limit of the population resistance. Three populations of the cladoceran Ceriodaphnia pulchella Sars in Southern Portugal were sampled; one of which has been historically-stressed by acid mine drainage (AMD) from an abandoned cupric-pyrite mine and two from reference sites within the same watershed. To assess if resistance differences were genetically-determined, the three populations were acclimated for at least five generations under the same controlled conditions. Assays with AMD contaminated water samples were performed with both non-acclimated and acclimated individuals from all studied populations. Reproduction results in sub-lethal assays revealed significant differences between the reference and stressed populations. Significant differences in resistance to lethal levels of toxicity were observed for both non-acclimated and acclimated populations, individuals from population I being more resistant than those from reference populations. The existence of genetically-determined sensitivity differences was attested by the presence of significant differences in resistance to lethal levels of toxicity in acclimated individuals from reference and stressed populations. Results from cumulative mortality assays revealed that sensitive individuals were most probably present in the original population, but no conclusion could be draw about the presence of extreme resistant individuals in the historically-stressed population. Finally, it was shown that responses among populations converged from high to low levels of contamination.

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