Genetic Diversity in California Native Fish Exposed to Pesticides

EPA Grant Number: R826603
Title: Genetic Diversity in California Native Fish Exposed to Pesticides
Investigators: Anderson, Susan L. , Kuivila, Katherine , Hinton, David E. , May, Bernard
Current Investigators: Anderson, Susan L. , Kuivila, Katherine , Wilson, Barry W. , May, Bernard
Institution: University of California - Davis
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: August 1, 1998 through January 31, 2003
Project Amount: $649,003
RFA: Ecological Indicators (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Aquatic Ecosystems


Our general goal is to discriminate sources of genetic change in California native fish populations using an innovative molecular genetic technique, Amplified Length Polymorphisms (AFLP). Our first objective is to examine populations of two fish species exposed to landscape-scale pesticide exposures and determine whether changes in genetic diversity are associated with indicators of pesticide exposure or natural genetic variation. Our second objective is to compare the AFLP technique with a different method, Randomly Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD). Our third objective is to examine linkages between effects at the molecular level and responses of individuals and populations. This study would expand upon previous research to discriminate the effects of anthropogenic stressors in aquatic populations, because effects would be examined on a broader geographic scale and characterization of stressors would be more complete.


The newly available AFLP technique has recently been adapted for use with fish in Dr. May's laboratory. This innovation will allow us to examine more of the genome per unit effort and expense than any other molecular genetic approach currently available. Changes in genetic diversity will be assessed at 6 reference and 3 contaminated locations. Protocols for site characterization are thoroughly considered so that biologic and environmental factors contributing to natural genetic variability are discerned. Indicators of pesticide exposure and effect measured at the site and in the fish include: acetylcholinesterase enzyme activity and DNA strand breaks in blood as well as pesticide analytical chemistry and mutagenicity of site waters. Two fish species were selected. One species, Cottus asper (Prickly sculpin) is a widely distributed native fish with relatively low mobility. This species would be useful for monitoring efforts to examine anthropogenic factors that may induce genetic change. The second fish, Lavinia symmetricus (Sacramento Roach) is more restricted in range and gene flow is virtually nonexistent among populations, exemplifying a species with high vulnerability for local extinctions. Linkages between genetic diversity data and vulnerability to stress in individuals and populations will be determined using either laboratory genetic adaptation studies or field transplant investigations to establish fitness:genotype relationships.

Expected Results:

Beneficial results may include: development of powerful new tools for genomic analysis and monitoring, examination of native species for west coast genetic monitoring efforts, assessment of discriminatory capacity of new molecular genetic tools to discern anthropogenic sources of genetic change at the watershed and regional levels, contributions toward biodiversity preservation of native fish, and assessment of sublethal genetic effects of widespread pesticide use in the the San Francisco Bay Delta River System.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 32 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 4 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

ecological effects, sensitive populations, mutagen, genetic polymorphisms, ecosystem indicators, aquatic, genetics, EPA Region 9, agriculture., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Toxics, Geographic Area, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Hydrology, Ecology, Water & Watershed, exploratory research environmental biology, Genetics, Environmental Chemistry, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, Chemistry, pesticides, State, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, EPA Region, Watersheds, Ecological Indicators, anthropogenic stresses, genotype, pesticide exposure, risk assessment, Region 9, ecological exposure, agricultural watershed, biomonitoring, AFLP, aquatic ecosystems, DNA, pesticide runoff, water quality, fish , California (CA), agriculture ecosystems

Relevant Websites: Exit Exit

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1999 Progress Report
  • 2000 Progress Report
  • 2001 Progress Report
  • 2002
  • Final Report