Intraspecies genetic diversity measures of environmental impacts.

EPA Grant Number: R826599
Title: Intraspecies genetic diversity measures of environmental impacts.
Investigators: Krane, Daniel , Burton, Jr., G. Allen , Grasman, Keith A.
Institution: Wright State University - Main Campus
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: August 1, 1998 through July 31, 2002
Project Amount: $420,278
RFA: Ecological Indicators (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Ecosystems


Determine the suitability of RAPD-PCR (randomly amplified polymorphic DNA-polymerase chain reaction) based measures of genetic diversity as an alternative to or screening test for U.S. EPA acute and chronic toxicity and bioaccumulation tests of ecological risk in a wide variety of resource types. Assess the amenability of a set of organisms from a range of trophic levels to genetic diversity-based measures that sensitively, rapidly and inexpensively assay the impact of a broad range of environmental stressors.


Population bottlenecks imposed by ecological stressors can result in significant reductions in genetic diversity that are only slowly restored in nature through the processes of migration and mutation. Diminished genetic diversity is ultimately responsible for decreases in the resiliency of naturally occurring populations and their ability to efficiently utilize resources. Recent advances in molecular biology have made sensitive assessments of a population's genetic diversity at large numbers of anonymous loci both rapid and inexpensive. We have found that genetic diversity estimates obtained from comparisons of the RAPD-PCR generated DNA profiles of naturally occurring populations of crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) and snails (Physella gyrina) are strongly correlated with widely used summary metrics of stream integrity such as the Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) and the Invertebrate Community Index (ICI). The proposed study would expand these preliminary analyses both in terms of: 1) the number of species from different trophic levels that are considered and 2) the variety of resource types examined (streams, estuarine and terrestrial). These studies will build upon recent work by the PI and Co-PIs that have tested the efficacy of traditional methods of assessing anthropogenic stress. The initial stages of the project will focus on three streams that have been extensively studied by the PI's which are contaminated by metals, PAHs, and/or PCBs as well as a nearby terrestrial site contaminated with petroleum wastes.

Expected Results:

Since RAPD-PCR profiles simultaneously survey a relatively large set of random genetic markers that are very likely to be free from selection by stressors, they are also more likely to provide a truer estimate of a population's genetic diversity than other molecular- based systems and be more sensitive than currently used ecological indicators. As a direct result, they should allow a generalized detection of both chronic and acute exposures to stressors and could lead to earlier and more efficient remediation through improved ecological risk assessment.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 35 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 2 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

biological communities, anthropogenic stressors, Ohio streams, biotic indices., RFA, Geographic Area, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, exploratory research environmental biology, Ecosystem Protection, Chemical Mixtures - Environmental Exposure & Risk, State, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Monitoring/Modeling, Ecological Effects - Human Health, Ecological Indicators, ecological exposure, risk assessment, anthropogenic stresses, stressors, biodiversity, stream ecosystems, molecular detection, biotic integrity, ecosystem indicators, terrestrial, Ohio (OH), DNA, RAPD-PCR, water quality, snails

Relevant Websites:

Progress and Final Reports:

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