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Aquat Toxicol. 2009 Nov 8;95(2):152-61. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2009.09.001. Epub 2009 Sep 17.

Variation in genotoxic stress tolerance among frog populations exposed to UV and pollutant gradients.

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Laboratoire d'Ecologie Alpine, UMR CNRS 5553, Université de Savoie, Technolac, Le Bourget du Lac, France.

Erratum in

  • Aquat Toxicol. 2010 Jan 21;96(1):84. Bocher, Aurore [corrected to Boscher, Aurore].


Populations of widely distributed species can be subjected to unequal selection pressures, producing differences in rates of local adaptation. We report a laboratory experiment testing tolerance variation to UV-B and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) among common frog (Rana temporaria) populations according to their natural exposure level in the field. Studied populations were naturally distributed along two gradients, i.e. UV-B radiation with altitude and level of contamination by PAHs with the distance to emitting sources (road traffic). Tadpoles from eight populations were subjected to (1) no or high level of artificial UV-B; (2) four concentrations of benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) (0, 50, 250, 500microgL(-1)); (3) simultaneously to UV-B and BaP. Since both stressors are genotoxic, the number of micronucleated erythrocytes (MNE) in circulating red blood cells was used as a bioindicator of tadpole sensitivity. High-altitude populations appear to be locally adapted to better resist UV-B genotoxicity, as they showed the lowest MNE numbers. Conversely, no correlation was observed between levels of PAH contamination in the field and tadpole tolerance to BaP in the laboratory, indicating the absence of local adaptation for BaP tolerance in these populations. Nevertheless, the decrease of MNE formation due to BaP exposure with altitude suggests that high-altitude populations were intrinsically more resistant to BaP genotoxicity. We propose the hypothesis of a co-tolerance between UV-B and BaP in high-altitude common frog populations: local adaptation to prevent and/or repair DNA damage induced by UV-B could also protect these highland populations against DNA damage induced by BaP. The results of this study highlight the role of local adaptation along pollutant gradients leading to tolerance variation, which implies that is it necessary to take into account the history of exposure of each population and the existence of co-tolerance that can hide toxic effects of a new pollutant.

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