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Investigation into Adaptation in Genes Associated with Response to Estrogenic Pollution in Populations of Roach (Rutilus rutilus) Living in English Rivers

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posted on 23.11.2020, 23:15 by Patrick B. Hamilton, Anne E. Lockyer, Tamsyn M. Uren Webster, David J. Studholme, Josephine R. Paris, Alice Baynes, Elizabeth Nicol, Deborah A. Dawson, Karen Moore, Audrey Farbos, Susan Jobling, Jamie R. Stevens, Charles R. Tyler
Exposure of male fish to estrogenic substances from wastewater treatment works (WwTWs) results in feminization and reduced reproductive fitness. Nevertheless, self-sustaining populations of roach (Rutilus rutilus) inhabit river stretches polluted with estrogenic WwTW effluents. In this study, we examine whether such roach populations have evolved adaptations to tolerate estrogenic pollution by comparing frequency differences in single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) between populations sampled from rivers receiving either high- or low-level WwTW discharges. SNPs within 36 “candidate” genes, selected for their involvement in estrogenic responses, and 120 SNPs in reference genes were genotyped in 465 roaches. There was no evidence for selection in highly estrogen-dependent candidate genes, including those for the estrogen receptors, aromatases, and vitellogenins. The androgen receptor (ar) and cytochrome P450 1A genes were associated with large shifts in allele frequencies between catchments and in individual populations, but there is no clear link to estrogen pollution. Selection at ar in the effluent-dominated River Lee may have resulted from historical contamination with endocrine-disrupting pesticides. Critically, although our results suggest population-specific selection including at genes related to endocrine disruption, there was no strong evidence that the selection resulted from exposure to estrogen pollution.