The effects of low levels of radiation on DNA mutation rates are largely unknown for free-living vertebrates. In this study we investigated the effects of contamination from cooling ponds at a nuclear production facility in South Carolina on the mutation rates in mitochondrial DNA in wood ducks (Aix sponsa). Specifically, we sequenced a 433-bp portion of the cytochrome b gene from 18 female - offspring pairs of wood ducks from contaminated ponds and 2 female - offspring pairs from control ponds. Very low haplotype diversity was observed overall, and no case of mutation between female and offspring could be satisfactorily documented. This suggests that the levels of radioactive contamination in these cooling ponds have little effect on the mutation rate of mitochondrial DNA in these waterfowl and that mitochondrial DNA may not be as sensitive an indicator as previously anticipated.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Science(all)