Evolutionary Toxicology as a Tool to Assess the Ecotoxicological Risk in Freshwater Ecosystems.
Marianna Rusconi, Roberta Bettinetti, Stefano Polesello and Fabrizio Stefani
Water, 2018


Borrowing the approaches of population genetics, evolutionary toxicology was particularly useful in assessing the transgenerational effects of a substance at sublethal concentrations, as well as evaluating genetic variation in populations exposed to pollutants. Starting from assays in controlled conditions, in recent years this approach has also found successful applications multi-stressed natural systems. It is also able to exploit the huge amount of data provided by Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) techniques. Similarly, the focus has shifted from effects on the overall genetic variability, the so-called “genetic erosion”, to selective effects induced by contaminants at more specific pathways. In the aquatic context, effects are usually assessed on non-model species, preferably native fish or macroinvertebrates. Here we provide a review of current trends in this specific discipline, with a focus on population genetics and genomics approaches. In addition, we demonstrate the potential usefulness of predictive simulation and Bayesian techniques. A focused collection of field and laboratory studies is discussed to demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach, covering a range of molecular markers, different endpoints of genetic variation, and different classes of chemical contaminants. Moreover, guidelines for a future implementation of evolutionary perspective into Ecological Risk Assessment are provided.

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