, 671:65 | Cite as

Sediment cores from Lake Urmia (Iran) suggest the inhabitation by parthenogenetic Artemia around 5,000 years ago

  • R. Manaffar
  • S. Zare
  • N. Agh
  • A. Siyabgodsi
  • S. Soltanian
  • F. Mees
  • P. Sorgeloos
  • P. Bossier
  • G. Van StappenEmail author
Primary Research Paper


In Lake Urmia area, northwestern Iran, parthenogenetic Artemia and the bisexual Artemia urmiana Günther 1890 are found to occupy different ecological niches determined by salinity. Given the fluctuations of the lake over geological times, we thus hypothesized that species identification of Artemia cysts, buried in the sediments, can provide information on lake conditions in the past. Therefore, encysted embryos of Artemia were recovered from lake sediments by augering at a site near the present shoreline. Cysts and associated plant remains from two studied levels yielded radiocarbon ages in the range 5,000–6,700 YBP. For determination of the type of Artemia, the constant synonym mutation in exon-7 of the Na/K ATPase gene was verified, and the diameter of the recovered cysts was compared with that of modern cysts from the Lake Urmia region. The results show that the cysts represent a parthenogenetic type of Artemia, whose cyst diameter is somewhat different from that of present-day local parthenogenetic Artemia. The present study firstly confirms the stability of DNA in ancient Artemia cysts for molecular analysis. Moreover, it suggests variation in Lake Urmia’s conditions over time, and based on comparison with salinity preferences of contemporary Artemia populations, it more specifically suggests that Lake Urmia was a brackish lake dominated by a parthenogenetic Artemia population in the geological period sampled. It finally illustrates how, like in the study of freshwater propagule banks, paleogenetic analysis of Artemia DNA recovered from sediment cores can be used as a tool in the paleoecological study of generally highly fluctuating saline habitats.


Artemia Ancient cysts Lake Urmia Na/K ATPase gene 



This study was conducted with the financial support of the Laboratory of Aquaculture & Artemia Reference Center, Ghent University, Belgium and the Artemia & Aquatic Animals Research Institute, Urmia University, Iran. The authors wish to thank Behroz Atashbar, Alireza Asem and Razieh Pak Tarmani for their assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Manaffar
    • 1
  • S. Zare
    • 2
  • N. Agh
    • 1
  • A. Siyabgodsi
    • 3
  • S. Soltanian
    • 4
  • F. Mees
    • 5
  • P. Sorgeloos
    • 6
  • P. Bossier
    • 6
  • G. Van Stappen
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.Artemia and Aquatic Animals Research InstituteUrmia UniversityUrmiaIran
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Faculty of ScienceUrmia UniversityUrmiaIran
  3. 3.Department of Geology, Faculty of ScienceUrmia UniversityUrmiaIran
  4. 4.Aquatic Animals Health & Disease Department, School of Veterinary MedicineShiraz UniversityShirazIran
  5. 5.Royal Museum for Central AfricaTervurenBelgium
  6. 6.Laboratory of Aquaculture & Artemia Reference CenterGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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