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Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Apr;114(4):547-52.

Evolutionary toxicology: population-level effects of chronic contaminant exposure on the marsh frogs (Rana ridibunda) of Azerbaijan.

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Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA.


We used molecular methods and population genetic analyses to study the effects of chronic contaminant exposure in marsh frogs from Sumgayit, Azerbaijan. Marsh frogs inhabiting wetlands in Sumgayit are exposed to complex mixtures of chemical contaminants, including petroleum products, pesticides, heavy metals, and many other industrial chemicals. Previous results documented elevated estimates of genetic damage in marsh frogs from the two most heavily contaminated sites. Based on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region sequence data, the Sumgayit region has reduced levels of genetic diversity, likely due to environmental degradation. The Sumgayit region also acts as an ecological sink, with levels of gene flow into the region exceeding gene flow out of the region. Additionally, localized mtDNA heteroplasmy and diversity patterns suggest that one of the most severely contaminated sites in Sumgayit is acting as a source of new mutations resulting from an increased mutation rate. This study provides an integrated method for assessing the cumulative population impacts of chronic contaminant exposure by studying both population genetic and evolutionary effects.

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