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Earth Science

Fish Evolve Immunity To Toxic Sludge 267

RedEaredSlider writes "Fish in the Hudson River and the harbor in New Bedford, Mass., have evolved resistance to PCBs. In the Hudson, a species of tomcod has evolved a way for a very specific protein to simply not bind to PCBs, nearly eliminating the toxicity. In New Bedford, the Atlantic killifish has proteins that bind to the toxin (just as they do in mammals) but the fish aren't affected despite high levels of PCBs in their cells. Why the killifish survive is a mystery."
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Fish Evolve Immunity To Toxic Sludge

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  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Sunday October 30, 2011 @03:55PM (#37887618)

    Ananda Chakrabarty developed a microorganism that actual feeds on PCBs by simple selection in his lab some 40 years ago.

    We have weeds that have evolved resistance to glyphosate in the wild. That is a much more impressive adaptation because glyphosate interferes with the production of key amino acids by plants.

    Life on earth has been adapting and evolving to its environment for billions of years. Why would anyone think it would stop?

  • by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Sunday October 30, 2011 @04:28PM (#37887784)

    Evolution is essentially the same thing as survival of the fittest followed by passing its traits on to the offspring because it enabled the fittest to reproduce more or live long enough to reproduce... and over time, the offspring with that trait will begin outnumber other members of its species without the trait because they have a better chance of survival. Also, spontaneous evolution is an oxymoron.

  • Re:cookoo canary (Score:5, Informative)

    by St.Creed ( 853824 ) on Sunday October 30, 2011 @06:59PM (#37888716)

    I'll try a translation:

    Up until now, it was easy to spot fish that was loaded to the gills with toxic chemicals, because they had weird growths. Now they have evolved resistances, you can't spot them by visual inspection anymore so it will be easier to insert toxic fish into the foodchain. We then return to the times were, if you had a dinner, the host was required to take a bite to show that nothing was poisonous. But for people who are genetically linked to people with a famous resistance to poison, like Rasputin, this may not even cause them to blink - so you also need to check whether your host is a descendant from Rasputin or other likely resistant folk (Borgia family would be candidates :)).

    So basically, we had early warning signals from fish but now *we* have become the early warning signals (canaries in the coalmine) - and if we live, the food may be safe. Hurray for dumping chemicals in the water.

    Ofcourse, the OP phrased this much nicer than my translation.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"