Glass eels (Anguilla anguilla) imprint the magnetic direction of tidal currents from their juvenile estuaries.
ABSTRACT: The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) hatches in the Sargasso Sea and migrates to European and North African freshwater. As glass eels, they reach estuaries where they become pigmented. Glass eels use a tidal phase-dependent magnetic compass for orientation, but whether their magnetic direction is innate or imprinted during migration is unknown. We tested the hypothesis that glass eels imprint their tidal-dependent magnetic compass direction at the estuaries where they recruit. We collected 222 glass eels from estuaries flowing in different cardinal directions in Austevoll, Norway. We observed the orientation of the glass eels in a magnetic laboratory where the magnetic North was rotated. Glass eels oriented towards the magnetic direction of the prevailing tidal current occurring at their recruitment estuary. Glass eels use their magnetic compass to memorize the magnetic direction of tidal flows. This mechanism could help them to maintain their position in an estuary and to migrate upstream.
Project description:The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) has one of the longest migrations in the animal kingdom. It crosses the Atlantic Ocean twice during its life history, migrating between the spawning area in the Sargasso Sea and Europe, where it is widely distributed. The leptocephalus larvae drift with the Gulf Stream and other currents for more than a year and metamorphose into glass eels when they arrive on the continental shelf and move toward coastal areas. The mechanisms underlying glass eel orientation toward the coast and into freshwater systems are poorly known. However, anguillid eels, including the glass eel life stage, have a geomagnetic sense, suggesting the possibility that they use Earth's magnetic field to orient toward the coast. To test this hypothesis, we used a unique combination of laboratory tests and in situ behavioral observations conducted in a drifting circular arena. Most (98%) of the glass eels tested in the sea exhibited a preferred orientation that was related to the tidal cycle. Seventy-one percent of the same eels showed the same orientation during ebb tide when tested in the laboratory under a manipulated simulated magnetic field in the absence of any other cue. These results demonstrate that glass eels use a magnetic compass for orientation and suggest that this magnetic orientation system is linked to a circatidal rhythm.
Project description:Links between the lunar cycle and the life cycle (migration patterns, locomotor activity, pulses in recruitment) of the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) are well documented. In this study, we hypothesized that the orientation of glass eels at sea is related to the lunar cycle. The European eel hatches in the Sargasso Sea and migrates across the Atlantic Ocean towards Europe. Upon reaching the continental shelf, the larvae metamorphose into glass eels and migrate up the estuaries, where some individuals colonize freshwater habitats. How glass eels navigate pelagic waters is still an open question. We tested the orientation of 203 glass eels in a transparent circular arena that was drifting in situ during the daytime, in the coastal Norwegian North Sea, during different lunar phases. The glass eels swimming at sea oriented towards the azimuth of the moon at new moon, when the moon rose above the horizon and was invisible but not during the other moon phases. These results suggest that glass eels could use the moon position for orientation at sea and that the detection mechanism involved is not visual. We hypothesize a possible detection mechanism based on global-scale lunar disturbances in electrical fields and discuss the implications of lunar-related orientation for the recruitment of glass eels to estuaries. This behaviour could help glass eels to reach the European coasts during their marine migration.
Project description:Anguilla eels are divided into temperate and tropical eels, based on their major distributions. The present study collected two temperate eels, Anguilla japonica and Anguilla anguilla, and two tropical eels, Anguilla marmorata and Anguilla bicolor pacifica, to examine two questions: do temperate and tropical Anguilla eels have different genetic polymorphic patterns?; and do temperate Anguilla japonica and Anguilla anguilla have a closer relationship to each other than to tropical eels? In total, 274 sequences were cloned and sequenced from six conserved microsatellite loci to examine polymorphic patterns of these four catadromous eels. Different mutational events, including substitutions, and repeat-unit deletions and insertions, appeared in major regions, while different point mutations were observed in flanking regions. The results implied that parallel patterns of microsatellite sequences occurred within both tropical and temperate freshwater eels. Consensus flanking sequences of six homologous loci from each of the four species were constructed. Genetic distances ranged from 0.044 (Anguilla bicolor pacifica vs. Anguilla marmorata) to 0.061 (Anguilla marmorata vs. Anguilla anguilla). The tree topology suggests the hypothesis of Anguilla japonica and Anguilla anguilla being a sister group must be rejected.
Project description:This project aims to study the role played by small non-coding RNAs in the response of aquatic organisms to the presence of micropollutants in the environment. MiRNA were purified from Eels (Anguilla anguilla) sampled from two sites along the Gironde aquatic system with contrasted pollution profiles. Overall design: 6 yellow eels were sampled in a pristine site (Arcachon Bay) and compared to 6 individuals from a polluted site (Gironde Estuary)
Project description:The focus of the present study was to set a methodological approach for evaluating molecular mechanisms underlying silvering transformation in the European eel, Anguilla anguilla. Silvering is a tightly controlled process during which eels undergo significant morphological, physiological and behavioral changes, pre-adapting for the oceanic spawning migration. Female eels showing different silver indexes were caught in different seasons in the Comacchio Lagoon (North Adriatic Sea, Italy). Isolated hepatocytes from these eels were selected as the experimental model given the relevant role of these cells in metabolic functions potentially altered during silvering. Expression profiles of 7 candidate reference transcripts were analyzed seeking the most viable and robust strategies for accurate qPCR data normalization during silvering. Stability analysis and further statistical validation identified transcripts encoding the ribosomal proteins L13 and ARP as the appropriate reference genes in studies on A. anguilla through silvering. The identified reference transcripts were further used to evaluate expression profiles of target transcripts encoding the thyroid hormone receptor ? (THR?) and vitellogenin (vtg), known to be involved in silvering processes. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study comparing THR? expression in European eels across silvering.
Project description:Freshwater eels of the genus Anguilla comprise 16 species that include three subspecies and are characterized by their unique catadromous life cycles. Their life histories and nocturnal life styles make it difficult to observe them in freshwater and marine habitats. To investigate their distribution and ecology in aquatic environments, we developed new PCR primers for metabarcoding environmental DNA (eDNA) from Anguilla. The new primers (MiEel) were designed for two conserved regions of the mitochondrial ATP6 gene, which amplify a variable region with sufficient interspecific variations ranging from five to 22 nucleotide differences (one to three nucleotide differences between three subspecies pairs). We confirmed the versatility of the MiEel primers for all freshwater eels using tissue DNA extracts when analyzed separately. The metabarcoding combined with the MiEel primers using mock communities enabled simultaneous detection of Anguilla at the species level. Analysis of eDNA samples from aquarium tanks, a controlled pond and natural rivers demonstrated that the MiEel metabarcoding could successfully detect the correct Anguilla species from water samples. These results suggested that eDNA metabarcoding with MiEel primers would be useful for non-invasively monitoring the presence of the endangered anguillid eels in aquatic environments where sampling surveys are difficult.
Project description:The present paper lists all parasite species of the European eel Anguilla anguilla (Linnaeus, 1758), recorded in Poland, in both its saltwater and freshwater habitats. The list has been drawn up, based on data acquired since 1844. The majority of included parasite species are presented with fish infection parameters together with data on their developmental stages and occupied microhabitats, localities and dates of collection of the eels themselves. The database includes 62 parasite taxa (including 50 species, nine identified to the genus level and three to higher taxa), representing at least 47 genera and 39 families. The most frequently-noted parasites of the European eel are the cestode Bothriocephalus claviceps, the nematodes Anguillicoloides crassus, Camallanus lacustris and Raphidascaris acus and the acanthocephalan Acanthocephalus lucii. Four alien species have been noted from this host: A. crassus, the monogeneans Pseudodactylogyrus anguillae and Pseudodactylogyrus bini and the acanthocephalan Paratenuisentis ambiguus. The present list includes both new host records and earlier records not included in previous lists of parasites of eels.
Project description:European eels (Anguilla anguilla) undertake an impressive 5 000 km long migration from European fresh waters through the North Atlantic Ocean to the Sargasso Sea. Along with sexual maturation, the eel skeleton undergoes a remarkable morphological transformation during migration, where a hitherto completely obscure bone loss phenomenon occurs. To unravel mechanisms of the maturation-related decay of the skeleton, we performed a multiscale assessment of eels' bones at different life-cycle stages. Accordingly, the skeleton reflects extensive bone loss that is mediated via multinucleated bone-resorbing osteoclasts, while other resorption mechanisms such as osteocytic osteolysis or matrix demineralization were not observed. Preserving mechanical stability and releasing minerals for energy metabolism are two mutually exclusive functions of the skeleton that are orchestrated in eels through the presence of two spatially segregated hard tissues: cellular bone and acellular notochord. The cellular bone serves as a source of mineral release following osteoclastic resorption, whereas the mineralized notochord sheath, which is inaccessible for resorption processes due to an unmineralized cover layer, ensures sufficient mechanical stability as a part of the notochord sheath. Clearly, an eel's skeleton is structurally optimized to meet the metabolic challenge of fasting and simultaneous sexual development during an exhausting journey to spawning areas, while the function of the vertebral column is maintained to achieve this goal.
Project description:Since the early 20th century, European eels (Anguilla anguilla L.) have been dichotomously classified into 'narrow' and 'broad' heads. These morphs are mainly considered the result of a differential food choice, with narrow heads feeding primarily on small/soft prey and broad heads on large/hard prey. Yet, such a classification implies that head-width variation follows a bimodal distribution, leading to the assumption of disruptive selection. We investigated the head morphology of 272 eels, caught over three consecutive years (2015-2017) at a single location in the Zeeschelde (Belgium). Based on our results, BIC favored a unimodal distribution, while AIC provided equal support for a unimodal and a bimodal distribution. Notably, visualization of the distributions revealed a strong overlap between the two normal distributions under the bimodal model, likely explaining the ambiguity under AIC. Consequently, it is more likely that head-width variation followed a unimodal distribution, indicating there are no disruptive selection pressures for bimodality in the Zeeschelde. As such, eels could not be divided in two distinct head-width groups. Instead, their head widths showed a continuum of narrow to broad with a normal distribution. This pattern was consistent across all maturation stages studied here.
Project description:The Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica) is among the most important aquaculture fish species in Eastern Asia. The present study aimed to identify the genetic parameters underlying body size and the timing at metamorphosis from leptocephali to glass eels in captive-bred Japanese eels, with the intent to foster sustainable development. Larvae from a partly factorial cross (14 sires × 11 dams) were reared until the point of metamorphosis into glass eels. In these organisms, we observed moderate heritability and mild genetic correlations among traits related to body size (h2 = 0.16-0.33) and timing at metamorphosis (h2 = 0.36-0.41). In an F1 full-sib family, quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping for these traits identified one significant (genome-wide P < 0.05) and five suggestive QTLs (chromosome-wide P < 0.05). These results suggest that in the Japanese eel, metamorphic traits exhibit a polygenic genetic structure comprising many QTLs with small effects. In addition, we updated the genetic linkage map for the Japanese eel and integrated it with our newly constructed de novo genome assembly. The information and tools generated from this study will contribute to the development of freshwater eel genetics and genomics.