Mutant Fish Evolved to Survive in Some of the Most Polluted Waters on Earth

striped fish

Ecologists use the striped killifish as an indicator species for polluted environments.

A new study suggests that the striped killifish has remarkably adapted to survive even in the most lethal and polluted waters on Earth. The team of researchers who conducted the study say that the fish has evolved to be approximately 8,000 times more resilient to toxic waste as opposed to other species.

The Striped Killifish

Also known as the Atlantic killifish, the marine creature lives mostly in the toxic waters of the East Coast estuaries like the Newark Bay in New Jersey, or the Elizabeth River in Virginia. The amount of hazardous compounds found in these waters could easily eradicate the small creatures. However, scientists recently discovered that the killifish has evolved over the years in order to be able to thrive in polluted environments that would otherwise eradicate most fish species.

Even though the small fish does not have a high commercial value, aquarium owners take a special interest in them, thanks to their small size and appealing colors. Moreover, ecologists use the striped killifish as an indicator species for polluted environments.

The Striped Killifish’s Ability to Survive in Toxic Environments

According to the team of researchers, the killifish’s ability to withstand even the harshest conditions is directly linked to their high levels of genetic variation. The scientists found out that the Atlantic killifish genetic variation exceeds by far that encountered in other vertebrates, humans included.

The study has been published on December 9th, in the journal Science. For their experiments, the team of researchers has sequenced the genomes of approximately 400 individuals from both polluted, as well as non-polluted environments.  Prior to the experiments, the polluted waters have been intentionally contaminated with a mixture of dioxins, heavy metals, hydrocarbons, and other chemicals associated with industrial plants.

The results led the scientific community to conclude that the killifish have evolved in order to adapt to habitats that have undergone extreme changes. Ultimately, the researchers also agreed that its impressive genetic variation enabled the striped killifish to adapt to life-threatening conditions even before the environment it lives in becomes polluted.

Image Source: Wikipedia

About Andreas Petersen

Andreas was too little to remember when he and his parents first set foot in America. He considers himself a true American citizen, but uses every opportunity to promote his Danish origins. He is deeply found of politics, all nations’ politics and generally looks forward to the presidential elections. His BA degree in Political Sciences has helped him get familiar to the constitutional frames of US and non-US nations.