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Transgenerational adaptation to pollution changes energy allocation in populations of nematodes

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JournalEnvironmental science & technology
DatePublished - 29 Sep 2015
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)A-I
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Assessing the evolutionary responses of long-term exposed populations requires multi-generation ecotoxicity tests. However, the analysis of the data from these tests is not straightforward. Mechanistic models allow the in-depth analysis of the variation of physiological traits over many generations, by quantifying the trend of the physiological and toxicological parameters of the model. In the present study, a bioenergetic mechanistic model has been used to assess the evolution of two populations of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans in control conditions or exposed to uranium. This evolutionary pressure resulted in a brood size reduction of 60%. We showed an adaptation of individuals of both populations to experimental conditions (increase of maximal length, decrease of growth rate, decrease of brood size, and decrease of the elimination rate). In addition, differential evolution was also highlighted between the two populations once the maternal effects had been diminished after several generations. Thus individuals that were greater in maximal length, but with apparently a greater sensitivity to uranium were selected in the uranium population. In this study, we showed that this bioenergetics mechanistic modelling approach provided a precise, certain, and powerful analysis of the life strategy of C. elegans populations exposed to heavy metals resulting in an evolutionary pressure across successive generations.

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