Molecular evolution in Microtus from Chernobyl
DeWoody, James Andrew
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The Chernobyl disaster offers a unique opportunity to study the biological effects of pollution on resident mammals. Specifically, there are three hypotheses that can be tested using nuclear genetic data. First, are levels of genetic diversity (number of alleles per locus) similar in zone and control populations? Second, is the occurrence of rare or private alleles more common in zone populations? Third, do allele frequencies at individual loci differ among populations? Each question effectively serves as a null hypothesis, e.g., that there are no differences between zone and control populations. If the contaminated environment near Chernobyl is affecting resident populations, there should be differences in some or all of these parameters. Each of the three questions listed above will be addressed using both protein and DNA data.