Rapid loss of genetically based resistance to metals after the cleanup of a Superfund site.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2003, 100 (17), pp. 9889 - 9891
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Over the period 1953-1979, a battery factory on the Hudson River in New York released approximately 53 tons of cadmium (Cd) and nickel hydride wastes into Foundry Cove. The most common aquatic benthic species, the oligochaete Limnodrilus hoffmeisteri, rapidly evolved resistance to Cd. The capacity for detoxification and internal storage of Cd resulted in a strong potential for trophic transfer of Cd through the aquatic food web. As a result of United States Superfund legislation, a major remediation effort in 1994-1995 removed the majority of the Cd, thereby removing the selective force for resistance. The cleanup of this cove resulted in the maintenance of resistant forms but then there ensued a rapid loss of resistance in approximately 9-18 generations, showing the potential for ecological restoration to rapidly reduce the potential for trophic transfer of Cd through the ecosystem. This study demonstrates a genetic approach to the study of ecological restoration and connects a genetic indicator of restoration to transfer of toxic metals through ecosystems.
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