Induced minisatellite germline mutations in herring gulls (Larus argentatus) living near steel mills
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Despite widespread industrial release of genotoxic contaminants, little is understood of their role in inducing germline mutations in natural populations. We used multilocus DNA fingerprinting to quantify germline minisatellite mutations in families of herring gulls (Larus argentatus) in three nesting categories: (a) near cities with large steel mills operating coking ovens; (b) near cities without steel mills; and (c) in rural locations removed from point sources of contamination. Gulls nesting near integrated steel mills showed significantly higher mutation rates than gulls from rural locations (Fisher's exact, P=0.0004); urban sites without steel mills fell midway between steel and rural sites (difference from rural; Fisher's exact, P=0.19). Distance of the nesting location of herring gulls from the steel industries' coking ovens was negatively correlated with minisatellite mutation rate demonstrating significant risk for induced germline mutations in cities with steel operations (Kendall Tau; tau=0.119; P<0.0001).
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