, Volume 500, Issue 1-3, pp 179-192

Characterisation of high-altitude Artemia populations from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, PR China

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Abstract

The brine shrimp Artemia was discovered in a number of saline lakes on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, widely diverging in chemical composition. Several lakes were athalassohaline, with relatively high amounts of trace elements. Common environmental factors are their high altitude (exceeding 4500 m) and the low average annual temperatures. A number of Artemia populations in this area were analysed to assess their preference for low temperatures and an athalassohaline medium. Furthermore, their characteristics were compared with Artemia tibetiana, the species recently described for one lake in this area. All samples contained a variable mixture of parthenogenetic and bisexual individuals. A cross-breeding test of the sample from Jingyu Lake showed cross-fertility both with A. tibetiana and A. sinica. All populations showed similarities to A. tibetiana: a large cyst diameter and naupliar length, high HUFA content and a high tolerance to low temperatures, as compared to the control A. franciscana samples. These can thus be considered as recurrent characteristics of the populations from the high-altitude low-temperature environment on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, although further research is needed to identify their exact species status.