Naturwissenschaften

, Volume 94, Issue 3, pp 213–217 | Cite as

Atlantic sturgeons (Acipenser sturio, Acipenser oxyrinchus): American females successful in Europe

  • Ralph Tiedemann
  • Katja Moll
  • Kirsten B. Paulus
  • Michael Scheer
  • Patrick Williot
  • Ryszard Bartel
  • Jörn Gessner
  • Frank Kirschbaum
Short Communication

Abstract

Recent molecular data on the maternally inherited mitochondrial (mt) DNA have challenged the traditional view that the now extinct Baltic sturgeon population belonged to the European sturgeon Acipenser sturio. Instead, there is evidence that American sea sturgeon Acipenser oxyrinchus historically immigrated into the Baltic Sea. In this study, we test the hypothesis that A. oxyrinchus introgressed into, rather than replaced, the A. sturio population in the Baltic. We established four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the nuclear MHC II antigen gene with a species-specific SNP pattern. Using an ancient DNA approach and two independent lines of molecular evidence (sequencing of allele-specific clones, SNaPshot), we detected both A. sturio and A. oxyrinchus alleles in the available museum material of the now extinct Baltic sturgeon population. The hybrid nature of the Baltic population was further confirmed by very high levels of heterozygosity. It had been previously postulated that the immigration of the cold-adapted A. oxyrinchus into the Baltic occurred during the Medieval Little Ice Age, when temperature likely dropped below the degree inducing spawning in A. sturio. Under this scenario, our new findings suggest that the genetic mosaic pattern in the Baltic sturgeon population (oxyrinchus mtDNA, sturio and oxyrinchus MHC alleles) is possibly caused by sex-biased introgression where spawning was largely restricted to immigrating American females, while fertilization was predominantly achieved by abundant local European males. The hybrid nature of the former Baltic sturgeon population should be taken into account in the current reintroduction measures.

Keywords

Acipenser oxyrinchus Acipenser sturio Ancient DNA Conservation genetics Hybridization MHC 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We acknowledge the constructive comments on the manuscript from Martin Plath. This work was partially supported by Bundesamt für Naturschutz (Az: Z1.3-892 11-7/99) and Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (Az: 0330718). The authors thank Daniel Hatin and Francois Caron for supplying the tissue samples from the St. Lawrence population of A. oxyrinchus. Paul Soucy is thanked for providing the opportunity to sample St. John A. oxyrinchus.

Supplementary material

114_2006_175_MOESM1_ESM.doc (36 kb)
S1 Electronic supplementary information: MHC alleles in recent and ancient sturgeons (DOC 36 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralph Tiedemann
    • 1
  • Katja Moll
    • 1
  • Kirsten B. Paulus
    • 1
  • Michael Scheer
    • 1
  • Patrick Williot
    • 2
  • Ryszard Bartel
    • 3
  • Jörn Gessner
    • 4
  • Frank Kirschbaum
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Unit of Evolutionary Biology/Systematic Zoology, Institute of Biochemistry and BiologyUniversity of PotsdamPotsdamGermany
  2. 2.CemagrefCestasFrance
  3. 3.Inland Fisheries InstituteGdańskPoland
  4. 4.Department of Biology and Ecology of FishesInstitute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland FisheriesBerlinGermany
  5. 5.Institute of Animal SciencesHumboldt-University BerlinBerlinGermany

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