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Genetic variance of tolerance and the toxicant threshold model



A statistical genetics method is presented for estimating the genetic variance (heritability) of tolerance to pollutants on the basis of a standard acute toxicity test conducted on several isofemale lines of cladoceran species. To analyze the genetic variance of tolerance in the case when the response is measured as a few discrete states (quantal endpoints), the authors attempted to apply the threshold character model in quantitative genetics to the threshold model separately developed in ecotoxicology. The integrated threshold model (toxicant threshold model) assumes that the response of a particular individual occurs at a threshold toxicant concentration and that the individual tolerance characterized by the individual's threshold value is determined by genetic and environmental factors. As a case study, the heritability of tolerance to p-nonylphenol in the cladoceran species Daphnia galeata was estimated by using the maximum likelihood method and nested analysis of variance (ANOVA). Broad-sense heritability was estimated to be 0.199 ± 0.112 by the maximum likelihood method and 0.184 ± 0.089 by ANOVA; both results implied that the species examined had the potential to acquire tolerance to this substance by evolutionary change. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012;31:813–818. © 2012 SETAC