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CHROMOSOMAL ABERRATIONS IN A NATURAL POPULATION OF CHIRONOMUS TENTANS EXPOSED TO CHRONIC LOW-LEVEL ENVIRONMENTAL RADIATION

Description: The salivary gland chromosomes of Chironomus tentans larvae collected from White Oak Creek, an area contaminated by radioactive waste from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and from six uncontaminated areas were examined for chromosomal aberrations. White Oak Creek populations were exposed to absorbed doses as high as 230 rads per year or about 1000 times background. Chromosomal maps were constructed to make a general comparison of the banding pattern of the salivary chromosomes of the C. tentans in the East Tennessee area with those of Canada and Europe. These maps were used as a reference in scoring aberrations. Fifteen different chromosomal aberrations were found in 365 larvae taken from the irradiated population as compared with five different aberrations observed in 356 larvae from six control populations, but the mean number of aberrations per larva did not differ in any of the populations. The quantitative amount of heterozygosity was essentially the same in the irradiated and the control population, but there were three times the variety of chromosomal aberrations found in the irradiated area. From this evidence it was concluded that chronic low-level irradiation from radioactive waste was increasing the variability of chromosomal aberrations without significantly increasing the frequency. It was also concluded that chromosomal polymorphism can be maintained in a natural population without superiority of the heterozygous individuals. (C.H.)
Date: January 29, 1964
Creator: Blaylock, B G; Auerbach, S I & Nelson, D J