Rapid evolution meets invasive species control: the potential for pesticide resistance in sea lamprey.
Rapid evolution of pest, pathogen, and wildlife populations can have undesirable effects, for example, when insects evolve resistance to pesticides or fishes evolve smaller body size in response to harvest. A destructive invasive species in the Laurentian Great Lakes, the sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) has been controlled with the pesticide 3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol (TFM) since the 1950s. We evaluated the likelihood of sea lamprey evolving resistance to TFM by (i) reviewing sea lamprey life history and control; (ii) identifying physiological and behavioural resistance strategies; (iii) estimating the strength of selection from TFM; (iv) assessing the timeline for evolution; and (v) analyzing historical toxicity data for evidence of resistance. The number of sea lamprey generations exposed to TFM was within the range observed for fish populations where rapid evolution has occurred. Mortality from TFM was estimated as 82%-90%, suggesting significant selective pressure. However, 57 years of toxicity data revealed no increase in lethal concentrations of TFM. Vigilance and the development of alternative controls are required to prevent this aquatic invasive species from evolving strategies to evade control.