Hybridization of pigs and feral pigs in Fukushima

After the disaster that hit Fukushima in Japan, wild boars and domestic pigs were gathered. In a study published June 30, 2021 in the Journal Biological sciences, researchers at Fukushima University explain that these animals successfully hybridized.

30,000 pigs abandoned in Fukushima

It was March 11, 2011 in Fukushima: an earthquake followed by a powerful tsunami led to a major nuclear accident. The radioactive materials are then dispersed and the environment is polluted. In response, the Japanese government organized the evacuation of homes over 1,150 km2 around a nuclear power plant. This type of desertion is not without consequences for biodiversity. So, after the Chernobyl disaster, there the wild world flourished more than ever. “The abandonment of the people of such a large area in Fukushima could have created favorable conditions for the rapid growth of wild species that could have benefited from officially anthropocentric landscapes. explain the authors of the new study. At the same time, natural disasters and the forced abandonment of agricultural communities in Fukushima have resulted in the release of domesticated livestock in the same landscapes, and it is known that runaway pigs can adapt to the wild and breed with their parents.Therefore, researchers here are interested in Japanese wild boars (Sus scrofa leukomistax) present in the evacuated area of ​​Fukushima. The latter suddenly benefited from a huge living area without being disturbed by the local population. But, as mentioned earlier, they also had to deal with the invasion of 30,000 domestic pigs (Sus scrofa domesticus), left by local farmers.

Genetic inheritance that is “diluted”

Crosses occurred between two subspecies. The researchers wanted to assess the consequences by conducting extensive DNA analyzes. The results obtained therefore confirmed the recent hybridizations of pigs and Japanese feral pigs. “31 individuals, morphologically identified as feral pigs, in Fukushima Prefecture, were of porcine origin“, the study underscores. However, the inheritance of pigs has been diluted with age. The genes that pigs have inherited will therefore be lost from generation to generation, especially because hybrid specimens are then reproduced with wild pigs.despite such a sudden and significant invasive force of pigs“, data obtained by researchers”they probably suggest that most pigs have not adapted in the wild“.

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