New research from the University of Exeter and King’s College London has shown how a population of brown trout can survive in the contaminated waters of the River Hayle in Cornwall where metal concentrations are so high they would be lethal to fish from unpolluted sites.
The team believe this is due to changes in the expression of their genes. The research was funded by NERC and the Salmon and Trout Association.
The researchers compared the trout living in the River Hayle with a population living in a relatively clean site in the River Teign. The results showed that the accumulation of metals in the kidney and liver – where metals are stored and detoxified – were 19 and 34 times higher in the Hayle trout, respectively. In the gill, concentrations averaging 63 times higher were present in the Hayle fish, but there were no differences in metal content in the gut. This accumulation of metals in the Hayle fish highlights their extraordinary tolerance of the extreme metal concentrations in their environment. (more…)