This paper aims at assessing the reproductive segregation within the endemic Barbus (renamed Labeobarbus) species flock of Lake Tana (Ethiopia). Migration, followed by temporal and spatial reproductive segregation in the upstream tributaries of two inflowing rivers was studied systematically over the 1999 and 2000 spawning seasons. Physical events that may trigger lacustrine migration and characterise suitability of spawning grounds were analysed. Six species migrate 30-40 km upstream Gumara River during declining flow, just after the rainy season. Spawning occurs in the well-oxygenated gravel beds of four Gumara tributaries. Eight 'large barb' species were absent from the rivers, or found only incidentally, thus segregating them at a macro-spatial scale from the six river-spawners. The missing species spawn either in the lake or in other rivers not sampled. Long distance migration and species-specific spawning sites suggest that homing may have facilitated reproductive isolation and speciation. A fine-tuning between homing and gonad development is suggested since females reach spawning maturity only as they arrive at the spawning grounds. This study provides convincing evidence for reproductive segregation, and contributes in unravelling the evolution of this unique Labeobarbus species flock. Collective migration and riverine spawning of six Labeobarbus species makes them very vulnerable for overfishing at the spawning areas.
Lake Tana (Ethiopia) harbours the only known remaining intact species flock of large (max. 100 cm standard length, SL) cyprinid fishes (15 Labeobarbus spp.). In 'common garden' experiments progeny of the riverine spawning benthivorous L. tsanensis, and of the piscivorous L. truttiformis and L. megastoma was raised under similar environmental conditions to test if interspecific morphological differentiation would occur. Interspecific morphological differences and divergence were clearly observed early in ontogeny (≤ 40 mm SL). This study is the first to demonstrate direct proof for the genetic basis of morphological differentiation among these labeobarbs, providing further support that Lake Tana's labeobarb species are true biological species.
Gonadal development and spawning behaviour of artificially-matured European eel (Anguilla anguilla L.) was studied. Treatment of males with Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG; 1 IU g/week) resulted in a Gonado-Somatic Index (GSI) of 10.88 ± 3.39 and spermiation. Treatment of females with carp Pituitary suspension (cPs) (20 mg cPs/kg body weight per week) resulted in oogenesis with a GSI of 20.0 ± 11.3 (n = 7), and the number of eggs per female was 1874 * 103 ± 1116 * 103; (n = 7). Ovulation of the females was induced with 17α, 20β dihydroxyprogesteron (DHP) at 2 μg/g bodyweight. Eggs of European eel were found to be non-sticky and typically pelagic. Maximum speed of eggs rising to the surface in a water column was 2.24 ± 0.33 metres (m) per hour (h). To study behaviour in a qualitative way, two females were used together with three groups of three males. During a 283 minute (min) observation of the two females, we observed female-female interaction: 'lethargic behaviour' (33.6%) vs. 'cruising together' (66.4%). In the period when males and females were together (188 min), we observed 'approaching the head region of the female' (57.7%), 'touching the operculum' (39.4%), or 'approaching the urogenital area' (2.9%) by the males (total 725 seconds (s)). Sperm release in the presence of a female took 115 s of the total approaching time of 725 s (15.9%), while in the case of male-male interaction this was only 15 s of the total period of 116 s (12.9%). Induced spawning behaviour of eels was collective and simultaneous, corresponding to spawning in a group. This is the first time group spawning behaviour has ever been observed and recorded in eels.
Common sole (Solea solea) aquaculture production is based mostly on wild-caught breeders. Recently, the successful reproduction of first-generation fish that were reared in captivity was accomplished. A consistent good quality and quantity of produced eggs throughout the year, and of next-generation broodstock, is important for reducing the overall cost of production. Hox genes play a pivotal role in normal embryonic development and alterations of their temporal expression level may be important for egg viability. Expression profile analysis of five hox genes (hoxa1a, hoxa2a, hoxa2b, hoxb1a and hoxb1b) involved in early embryonic development and of hoxa13a, which is involved in late stages, was carried out. Results revealed a premature and/or maternal expression of hoxa13a in sole embryos, and the detection of hoxa2a and hoxa2b genes as members of paralog group 2. Principal Component Analysis of hox gene expression in 54 ± 6 hours post fertilization embryos coming from wild-caught broodstock and a first-generation one reared in the hatchery, unveiled that these broodstocks are clearly distinct. In addition, their pairwise comparison revealed significant differences in the expression levels of hoxb1a and hoxb1b genes. Hox gene regulation during embryonic development could give valuable insight into rearing sole broodstocks with different origin in concert, and also into gaining a steady mass production of eggs, either in quality or quantity, all year round.