Qualitative assessment of the diet of European eel larvae in the Sargasso Sea resolved by DNA barcoding

Riemann, Lasse, Alfredsson, Hanna, Hansen, Michael M., Als, Thomas D., Nielsen, Torkel G., Munk, Peter, Aarestrup, Kim, Maes, Gregory E., Sparholt, Henrik, Petersen, Michael I., Bachler, Mirjam, and Castonguay, Martin (2010) Qualitative assessment of the diet of European eel larvae in the Sargasso Sea resolved by DNA barcoding. Biology Letters, 6 (6). pp. 819-822.

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Abstract

European eels (Anguilla anguilla) undertake spawning migrations of more than 5000 km from continental Europe and North Africa to frontal zones in the Sargasso Sea. Subsequently, the larval offspring are advected by large-scale eastward ocean currents towards continental waters. However, the Sargasso Sea is oligotrophic, with generally low plankton biomass, and the feeding biology of eel larvae has so far remained a mystery, hampering understanding of this peculiar life history. DNA barcoding of gut contents of 61 genetically identified A. anguilla larvae caught in the Sargasso Sea showed that even the smallest larvae feed on a striking variety of plankton organisms, and that gelatinous zooplankton is of fundamental dietary importance. Hence, the specific plankton composition seems essential for eel larval feeding and growth, suggesting a linkage between eel survival and regional plankton productivity. These novel insights into the prey of Atlantic eels may furthermore facilitate eel larval rearing in aquaculture, which ultimately may replace the unsustainable use of wild-caught glass eels.

Item ID: 27631
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1744-957X
Keywords: Sargasso Sea, European eel, Anguilla anguilla, diet, barcoding
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2013 09:37
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 30%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0604 Genetics > 060411 Population, Ecological and Evolutionary Genetics @ 30%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060301 Animal Systematics and Taxonomy @ 40%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960305 Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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