Comparison of age and growth performance of diploid and tetraploid loach Misgurnus anguillicaudatus in the Yangtze River basin, China
Diploids and tetraploids of the cyprinid loach Misgurnus anguillicaudatus coexist in many natural habitats in Asia. However, little is known about the biological and ecological differences between these two ploidy forms. We examined age, body size and growth rates of fish in a mixed ploidy population of M. anguillicaudatus in the Yangtze River basin in China. The sex ratios of both diploid and tetraploid M. anguillicaudatus were highly skewed toward females, who tended to be larger than males. The age distributions of the collected specimens clearly indicated that tetraploids lived longer than diploids. For example, we found a substantial number of tetraploids that were 5+ years old, while the oldest diploids were 4+ years old. Tetraploids were also longer and heavier than diploids for both sexes. Using the empirical body size and age data, we inferred the growth patterns of these fish with the von Bertalanffy growth function. The estimated asymptotic body lengths (L∞) indicated that tetraploids could indeed achieve larger body sizes than diploids. This difference was partially due to the increased growth rate, as demonstrated by lower growth coefficient (K) and higher growth performance index (φ’). In sum, we show that tetraploid M. anguillicaudatus exhibited significantly increased longevity and superior growth performance compared to diploids. These differences may contribute to the ecological competitiveness of tetraploid M. anguillicaudatus, thus enabling them to coexist with diploids in certain ecological settings.