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Finally, male water fleas exposed

s that regularly produce males.

The researchers found that the MF exposure caused the production of males in different families of water fleas, despite the fact that they were only distantly related to each other and despite the fact that laboratory conditions were designed to be unfavorable to the production of males.

"Because the same MF hormone affects a broad range of crustaceans, any insecticide that mimics MF also may affect a large number of species in freshwater communities," said Taylor.

"In other words, MF-based insecticides are not insect-specific, and if you affect a non-target species that's a major player in these freshwater food webs, then it will affect things higher up the food chain," he said.

The increased production of males after exposure to these insecticides could reduce water flea populations significantly, adversely affecting freshwater fish populations, he said.

The induction of males in the lab comes at an important time, Taylor explained, since the Daphnia genome is expected to be published next year. Taylor is a member of the consortium based at Indiana University that is working on the genome.

"Breeding studies with both males and females often are necessary to identify candidate genes responsible for certain genetic traits," Taylor said. "If we want to understand, for example, the genetic basis for why some clones of Daphnia from lakes are more resistant to pollution, then having males could help to find the genes in the genome."

Male water fleas, Taylor explained, are assigned more readily to a species than are females, but males are only rarely produced and for many species, have never been seen.

"We need to know the species identities in order to understand how freshwater communities are changing over time, as a response to climate change, pollution or invasive species," said Taylor. "We're hoping that by studying the biology of the rare males, we can learn mor
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Contact: Ellen Goldbaum
goldbaum@buffalo.edu
716-645-5000 x1415
University at Buffalo
6-Dec-2005


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