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Populations of the killifish Fundulus heteroclitus surrounding Superfund Sites have been found to have evolved resistance to PAHs and DLCs toxicity and teratogenesis. The resistance mechanism has been thought to derive from the Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor (AHR) pathway encoding a ligand activated transcription factor that drives expression of xenobiotic enzymes such as Cytochrome P450. To study possible resistance in a local Upper Delaware Bay population, we analyzed single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in Exon 10 of AHR1a in Fundulus heteroclitus downstream of a United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) designated superfund site in the Lower Darby Creek in the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Individuals from this freshwater site were compared to individuals from a nearby freshwater control site, the Muckinipattis Creek and a marine control site, Ocean City, NJ. In this study we report that the northern subspecies Fundulus heteroclitus macrolepidotus is fixed in Lower Darby Creek and Muckinipattis Creek populations and that the southern subspecies Fundulus heteroclitus heteroclitus is fixed in the Ocean City, New Jersey population. The former two populations are the furthest north populations of Delaware Bay populations whose subspecies status has been studied. We found no definitive evidence of hybridization between F. heteroclitus macrolepidotus and F. diaphanus in the freshwater populations although clonal hybrids between these two species are reported elsewhere. SNPs discovered in exon 10 of AHR1a were significantly divergent from control populations, which may play a role in pollution resistance in Fundulus heteroclitus in the Lower Darby Creek.
Kenwood, Matthew and Fuchs, Mary, "Species and Subspecies Determination and Sequence of Exon 10 of the AHR Locus in Three Mid-Atlantic Populations of Fundulus heteroclitus" (2021). Biology Presentations. 17.
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