In 2003, we examined the chromosomes of grass voles at an illegal dumpsite at the Aomori-lwate prefectural boundary. In subsequent years, from 2003-2006, we surveyed the chromosomes of four species of small mammals, namely, the Japanese grass vole (Microtus montebelli), the large Japanese field mouse (Apodemus speciosus), the small Japanese field mouse (A. argenteus), and the greater Japanese shrew mole (Urotrichus talpoides). Each annual survey revealed, both on a yearly basis and during the entire period in question, that the frequencies of breaks and gaps in chromosomes of M. montebelli were significantly higher at the dumpsite than on the outskirts and in controls, suggesting that grass voles at the dumpsite have been subject to continuous genotoxic effects since the establishment of the dumpsite. We also ascertained that grass voles are much more susceptible to chromosomal damage than field mice and shrew moles, which had very low levels of chromosomal aberrations at the dumpsite, on the outskirts of the dumpsite, and in controls. Our four-year survey revealed two variants of M. montebelli from the dumpsite with M6 fission (2n=31), two variants of A. speciosus from the outskirts with XO monosomy (2n=47, XO), and a variant of A. speciosus from the dumpsite with situs inversus. Our analysis confirms our previously proposed hypothesis that M. montebelli might be useful as an indicator species for genotoxic assessment of below-ground pollution by industrial waste at illegal dumpsites.
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