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Xenobiotic resistance is commonly found in species with short generation times such as bacteria, annual plants, and insects. Nevertheless, the fundamental evolutionary principles that govern the spread of resistance alleles hold true for species with longer generation times. One such example could occur with sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus), a parasitic invasive species in the Laurentian Great Lakes that decimated native fish populations prior to its control with the pesticide 3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol (TFM). Since the 1950s, tributaries have been treated annually with TFM, where treatments effectively remove most, but not all, larval sea lamprey. We developed an eco-genetic model of sea lamprey to examine factors affecting the evolution of resistance and found that resistance alleles rapidly rise to fixation after 40-80 years of treatment, despite the species' relatively long generation time (4-7 years). The absence of natal homing allows resistant individuals to spread quickly throughout the entire system, but also makes the early detection of resistance challenging. High costs of resistance and density independent reproduction can delay, but not prevent, the onset of resistance. These results illustrate that sea lamprey have the potential to evolve resistance to their primary control agent in the near future, highlighting the urgent need for alternative controls.


Mark R Christie, Maria S SepĂșlveda, Erin S Dunlop. Rapid resistance to pesticide control is predicted to evolve in an invasive fish. Scientific reports. 2019 Dec 03;9(1):18157

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PMID: 31796760

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