Effects of pollution on animal genetics

Genetics is overtly being affected by the negative impacts of pollution worldwide.

Effects of pollution on animal genetics

Effects of pollution on animal genetics



The pollutants in our environment are the key factors behind the common phenomenon; pollution. Some of the pollutants are carbon and dangerous chemicals polluting the air, running-off agricultural nutrients, dumping pharmaceutical and medical wastes into aquatic systems polluting waters, leakage from landfills, human waste reservoirs, etc. The adverse effects of pollution are visible on large animals. But how it affects the animals on the genetic level is still unidentified. Today’s plants and animals are genetically more modified and have organisms detecting genetic pollution. 


Genetic Diversity and Mutations

The pollutants end their journey into animals’ systems. It causes direct changes in animals’ genetic diversity. To exemplify this, we may take the instance of heavy metal presence in water bodies in Finland and Russia. Also, radioactive isotopes from nuclear plants in Russia are seen. This causes a significant increase in the wild population of the great tit. The number of pied flycatchers decreased for the same reason. In Hamilton, Ontario air pollution has increased because of the steel mills situated there. As a result, gulls, and mice genetic mutation rate in the offspring has increased.  

In a new study, it is reported that the Chernobyl nuclear accident resulted in increasing mutation rates in the populations of rodents and birds. The research also shows that birds and mammals DNAs are affected. It is more evident in the animals living near industrial areas. The rate of physical, behavior or survival rate changes is not recorded yet. But the consequences of the effects are localized in the few generations only. 



Physical problems are frequent in animals nowadays because of environmental pollution. Fatal diseases, altered hormone levels, and reproduction are among the major problems. These challenges are not directly related to genetic changes. Scientists have been using the body symmetry to find out genetic and developmental regularity from the 1980s. Any kind of imbalance in the symmetry is known as asymmetry. The physical changes show genetic abnormality in the animals. Many species like mice, trout, and birds show the sign of asymmetry due to environmental pollution. The asymmetry shows an imbalance between the two sides of the body. A recent study shows that the asymmetry takes part in the ornaments for attracting mates. This kind of ornamental asymmetry results in less reproduction rate and the offspring are with lower survival rates. Although this does not affect reproduction, it increases the rate of predators attacks and lowers the rate of survival. 


Genetic Pollution

This is a new term that indicates the mixture of genetically modified organisms or they get directly affected by them. In the case of crops, the wild population extinct as they are not chemical and insect-resistant like the commercial ones. The insecticides used in the crops harm the insects. They are locally extinct for the massive use of insecticide and they have adopted a higher mutation rate while feeding on the contaminated crops. The bacteria residing on the modified crops are reported to have increased antibiotic resistance in India. The same bacteria can cause tuberculosis. The antibiotic-resistant bacteria can alone spread the disease on a large scale.    

Genetic Susceptibility and Evolution

The rate of susceptibility is not the same in all the animals. They show susceptibility in different ways in case of pollution’s effects. Illness is frequent and the reproduction rate is decreased in the animals. The local susceptible populations are thought to be extinct eventually. The effects of ozone pollution are evident in mice. They have shown the same susceptibility to sulfur particles. The susceptible populations are the most threatened to be locally extinct.    


Microbial Genetic Effects

The microbial community is also affected by environmental pollution. Not only the antibiotic but also the antifungal resistance are affected by this. The varied range of microbial diversity is at stake for this pollution. When a lot of pharmaceuticals are dumped into the water bodies, the microbes become more resistant to antimicrobial drugs. In a study related to E. coli from the Shipyard Creek in South Carolina. It shows that these microbes raised in an environment that is polluted with metals and other industrial wastes. They became resistant to nine different classes of antibiotics.