Project description:BACKGROUND: Studies on artificial hybridization of different Anguilla species were conducted recently, i.e. female A. australis with male A. dieffenbachii, and female A. japonica with male A. anguilla. The existence of these artificial hybrids was however not demonstrated by independent genetic methods. Two species - A. anguilla and A. australis - that are phylogenetically close but have different sexual maturation times (12-25 weeks and 6-8 weeks, respectively), were expected to produce favourable hybrids for reproduction studies. RESULTS: A modification of the protocol for the reproduction of Anguilla japonica was used to produce eight-day Anguilla australis larvae, with a success rate of 71.4%. Thus ten out of 14 females produced eggs that could be fertilized, and three batches resulted in mass hatching. Hybrid larvae from female A. australis x male A. Anguilla survived for up to seven days post fertilization (dpf). The early development of the hybrid showed typical characteristics of A. anguilla tail pigmentation at 50 hours post fertilization (hpf), indicating expression of genes derived from the father. CONCLUSIONS: In this paper we describe the first production of hybrid larvae from male A. anguilla and female A. australis and their survival for up to 7 dpf. A species-specific nucleotide difference in the 18 S rDNA gene confirmed that genes from both A. australis and A. anguilla were present in the hybrids. The developmental stages of the hybrid eel embryos and larvae are described using high resolution images. Video footage also indicated a heart beat in 5-dpf larva.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Once highly abundant, the European eel (Anguilla anguilla L.; Anguillidae; Teleostei) is considered to be critically endangered and on the verge of extinction, as the stock has declined by 90-99% since the 1980s. Yet, the species is poorly characterized at molecular level with little sequence information available in public databases. RESULTS: The first European eel transcriptome was obtained by 454 FLX Titanium sequencing of a normalized cDNA library, produced from a pool of 18 glass eels (juveniles) from the French Atlantic coast and two sites in the Mediterranean coast. Over 310,000 reads were assembled in a total of 19,631 transcribed contigs, with an average length of 531 nucleotides. Overall 36% of the contigs were annotated to known protein/nucleotide sequences and 35 putative miRNA identified. CONCLUSIONS: This study represents the first transcriptome analysis for a critically endangered species. EeelBase, a dedicated database of annotated transcriptome sequences of the European eel is freely available at http://compgen.bio.unipd.it/eeelbase. Considering the multiple factors potentially involved in the decline of the European eel, including anthropogenic factors such as pollution and human-introduced diseases, our results will provide a rich source of data to discover and identify new genes, characterize gene expression, as well as for identification of genetic markers scattered across the genome to be used in various applications.
Project description:Limited insight into eel larvae feeding and diet prevents a holistic overview of the life-cycle of catadromous eels and an understanding of the ecological position of their early stages in marine waters. The present study evaluated the diet of larval European eel, Anguilla anguilla - a critically endangered species. Next-generation 18S rRNA gene sequencing data of Sargasso Sea eel larvae gut contents and marine snow aggregates was compared with a reference plankton database to assess the trophic relations of eel larvae. Gut contents of A. anguilla larvae were not well explained by the eukaryotic composition of marine snow aggregates; gut contents being dominated by gene sequences of Hydrozoa taxa (phylum Cnidaria), while snow aggregates were dominated by Crustacea taxa. Pronounced differences between gut contents and marine snow aggregates were also seen in the prokaryotic 16S rRNA gene composition. The findings, in concert with significant abundances of Hydrozoa in the study area, suggest that Hydrozoa plankton are important in the diet of A. anguilla larvae, and that consideration of these organisms would further our understanding of A. anguilla feeding strategies in the oligotrophic Sargasso Sea, which may be important for potential future rearing of A. anguilla larvae in captivity.
Project description:European eel (Anguilla anguilla) is a critically endangered species requiring CITES permits for international trade. Despite the fact that no imports to Hong Kong were declared within the last 2 years, our study found that this species is still commonly sold in major supermarket chains across Hong Kong. In a COI barcoding survey of 49 retail vendors encompassing 13 brands, 9 of 13 carried A. anguilla, and 45% of all eel products available at retail outlets (n = 49) were unambiguously identified as A. anguilla. Considering the visual similarity of eel species and disproportionate amount of undeclared A. anguilla available for consumption, this finding raises urgent concerns regarding the enforcement of international CITES trade regulations. Furthermore, the prevalence of A. anguilla in supermarkets highlights how illicit wildlife products are not solely limited to specialized affluent buyers; some species have entered mainstream distribution networks for the average consumer.