The epigenetic effects of pollution last for generations in Daphnia pulex

Daphnia pulex.Credits: Dr. Stewart Praistow, University of Liverpool

A new study led by researchers at the University of Liverpool shows that the effects of pollutants can be transmitted to Daphnia pulex for generations and can last long enough to influence evolutionary processes. It is shown.

Was announced in Evolution letterResearch adds new evidence to the debate about whether Environmental impact It can cause genetic changes in animal biology.

Genes that are passed down from parent to offspring are covered by a complex sequence of proteins and chemicals that determine how they are expressed. These are collectively known as the “epigenome.”

The epigenome is sensitive to environmental stresses such as pollution that can alter gene expression. Importantly, there is increasing evidence that these stress-induced changes can be transmitted across generations.

Dr. Stewart Praistow, Senior Lecturer of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Liverpool, explains: Evolutionary biology At this time, they provide a possible mechanism for the inheritance of environmental effects alongside traditional Darwinian inheritance.

“Although they are routinely shown in plants, epigenetic marks are often thought to be wiped clean during embryonic development, making them much more controversial in animals.”

In this study, researchers focused on one important epigenetic mark, cytosine methylation in Daphnia pulexia’s DNA. Daphnia pulex.

They have demonstrated that exposure of Daphnia pulexus to low doses of contaminants affects the epigenome, which lasts for more than 15 generations.

They exposed the replicated Daphnia pulex population to three different freshwater pollutants for seven months (about 15 generations), after which half of the population was exposed. clear water 8 months (> 15 generations).

They found that all three contaminants contributed to changes in DNA methylation.Importantly, some of these changes were detectable not only in continuously treated Daphnia pulex, but also in cleanly reconstituted ones. waterThese permanent changes, Pollutants..

Follow-up experiments confirmed that phenotypic effects were still detectable three generations after exposure to contaminants.

Dr. Yuan Harney, Marie Curie Fellow, Institute of Evolutionary Biology, Barcelona, ​​said: Epigenetic processes such as DNA methylation can play an important role in rapid adaptation. “

Work is underway in the lab to test whether these effects are independent of the genetic background and whether they affect fitness.

Toxin-adapted fish inherit epigenetic mutations in freshwater offspring

For more information:
Ewan Harney et al, pollution induces epigenetic effects that are stably transmitted across multiple generations. Evolution letter (2022). DOI: 10.1002 / evl3.273

Quote: Epigenetic effects of pollution, water flea obtained on February 10, 2022 from https: // (2022) Will last for generations on February 10th)

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The epigenetic effects of pollution last for generations in Daphnia pulex

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