Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 100, Issue 5, pp 509–518 | Cite as

Implications of absence of seawater-type mitochondria-rich cells and results of molecular analyses for derivation of the non-parasitic Ukrainian brook lamprey Eudontomyzon mariae

  • Helmut Bartels
  • Christoph Wrede
  • Miroslaw Przybylski
  • Ian C. Potter
  • Margaret F. Docker


The Ukrainian brook lamprey Eudontomyzon mariae is the most widespread lamprey species in eastern Europe. Although E. mariae is generally considered a derivative of Eudontomyzon danfordi, an exclusively freshwater parasitic species, it has alternatively been suggested that it was recently derived from a now extinct anadromous Black Sea ancestor. Several non-parasitic lampreys and the landlocked sea lamprey, which have recently evolved from anadromous ancestors, still develop a seawater-type mitochondria-rich cell (SW-MRC) in their gills. In contrast, this cell type is not present in the gills of either Lampetra aepyptera, a non-parasitic lamprey of ancient origin, or the parasitic Ichthyomyzon unicuspis and I. castaneus that likewise have long evolutionary histories in fresh water. Eudontomyzon mariae from the Vistula River in the Baltic River basin does not possess SW-MRC, which is inconsistent with a recent origin from an anadromous ancestor. Mitochondrial DNA sequence data were thus used to infer the relationship between different populations of E. mariae and E. danfordi, and to reconstruct the transition from anadromy to freshwater residency. The results suggest that E. mariae evolved independently in the Baltic, Black, and Caspian Sea basins, and not recently from an anadromous ancestor. Although E. mariae in the Danube River may have arisen relatively recently from E. danfordi (differing by 0.7–1.1% in cytochrome b gene sequence), other E. mariae populations (including in the Vistula River) are genetically closer (0.6%) to the hypothetical ancestor of both E. mariae and E. danfordi. That ancestor was probably a freshwater resident, since SW-MRCs are not rapidly lost following confinement in fresh water.


Non-parasitic lampreys Paired species Ukrainian brook lamprey Eudontomyzon mariae Gill epithelium Seawater-type mitochondria-rich cells Cytochrome b 



The authors thank Claude B. Renaud for critically reading the manuscript. The excellent technical assistance of S. Fassbaender is gratefully acknowledged. A. Fox provided help with the network analyses. Financial support was provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Faculty of Science at the University of Manitoba, Murdoch University and the Polish Ministry for Science and Higher Education.

Compliance with ethical standards

The study was in accordance with the Polish law of animal welfare.

Conflict of interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helmut Bartels
    • 1
  • Christoph Wrede
    • 1
  • Miroslaw Przybylski
    • 2
  • Ian C. Potter
    • 3
  • Margaret F. Docker
    • 4
  1. 1.Hannover Medical SchoolInstitute of Functional and Applied AnatomyHannoverGermany
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Vertebrate Zoology, Faculty of Biology and Environmental ProtectionUniversity of LódzLódzPoland
  3. 3.Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research, School of Veterinary and Life SciencesMurdoch UniversityMurdochWestern Australia
  4. 4.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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