Marine Biology

, Volume 121, Issue 4, pp 591-599

First online:

Acclimation of the European sea bass to freshwater: monitoring genetic changes by RAPD polymerase chain reaction to detect DNA polymorphisms

  • G. AllegrucciAffiliated withDipartimento di Biologia, Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”
  • , A. CacconeAffiliated withDipartimento di Biologia, Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”
  • , S. CataudellaAffiliated withDipartimento di Biologia, Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”
  • , J. R. PowellAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Yale University
  • , V. SbordoniAffiliated withDipartimento di Biologia, Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


We investigated the use of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and the associated random amplification of polymorphic DNA (RAPD) technique to study variation in samples of the sea bass, Dicentrarchus labrax, before and after acclimation to freshwater. Acclimation trials were repeated twice, in 1989 and 1990, for two samples originating from the same broodstock (individuals from different localities along the Italian coasts), with overall mortality rates averaging 94 and 75% in the 2 yr, respectively. Analyses are based on 126 polymorphic RAPD markers, scored in at least 39 individuals for each of the starting and acclimated samples in both years. Analysis of RAPD patterns revealed high levels of DNA polymorphism in both 1989 and 1990 starting samples. The acclimated samples maintained similar polymorphism levels. Shifts in marker frequencies between starting and acclimated samples occurred in both years. A correspondence analysis carried out on multimarker individual profiles suggests that the two starting samples resulted from uneven sampling of the same heterogenous broodstock. This analysis clearly separates RAPD phenotypes from starting and acclimated samples in both years and identifies the RAPD markers responsible for such displacement. Patterns of RAPD variation are compared with previous allozymic studies carried out on the same samples. A major difference between the two studies was the number of markers available. Fewer allozyme loci were studied than were RAPD markers. The cause of repeated shifts for allozyme alleles in replicate experiments were almost certainly due to selection, while statistical chance could explain the repeated shift of only one out of more than 100 RAPD markers. We have shown that RAPD analysis, if carried out carefully, is quite reproducible and sensitive enough to reveal high levels of variation among individuals from the same broodstock. A major drawback of this approach is the still unclear inheritance patterns of RAPD polymorphisms. The use of multivariate analyses is suggested as a possible alternative to traditional population genetics techniques to analyze patterns of variation in the absence of a precise genetic interpretation.