Lind EE, Grahn M
Ecotoxicology 20 (3) 503-512 [2011-05-00; online 2011-04-02]
Contamination can cause a rapid environmental change which may require populations to respond with evolutionary changes. To evaluate the effects of pulp mill effluents on population genetics, we sampled three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) near four pulp mills and four adjacent reference sites and analyzed Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism (AFLP) to compare genetic variability. A fine scale genetic structure was detected and samples from polluted sites separated from reference sites in multidimensional scaling plots (P<0.005, 1000 permutations) and locus-by-locus Analysis of Molecular Variance (AMOVA) further confirmed that habitats are significantly separated (F(ST)=0.021, P<0.01, 1023 permutations). The amount of genetic variation between populations did not differ between habitats, and populations from both habitats had similar levels of heterozygosity (polluted sites Nei's Hs=0.11, reference sites Nei's Hs=0.11). Still, pairwise F(ST): s between three, out of four, pairs of polluted-reference sites were significant. A F(ST)-outlier analysis showed that 21 (8.4%) loci were statistically different from a neutral distribution at the P<0.05 level and therefore indicated to be under divergent selection. When removing 13 F(ST)-outlier loci, significant at the P<0.01 level, differentiation between habitats disappeared in a multidimensional scaling plot. In conclusion, pulp mill effluence has acted as a selective agent on natural populations of G. aculeatus, causing a convergence in genotype composition change at multiple sites in an open environment.