Fisheries Science

, Volume 83, Issue 3, pp 425–432 | Cite as

Molecular identification of macroalgal fragments in gut contents of the sea urchin Hemicentrotus pulcherrimus

  • Daichi Nakano
  • Mitsunobu Kamiya
  • Osamu Tominaga
Original Article Biology


In order to improve the efficiency of stock enhancement programs for the sea urchin Hemicentrotus pulcherrimus, information on food algal species, which affect growth and gonad production greatly, is necessary. Since it is difficult to identify species from the macroalgal fragments within the gut contents of the sea urchin by microscopic observation, we tried to apply a DNA barcoding method for gut contents analysis. We used a partial rbcL gene sequence for taxonomic section and newly designed primer sets, respectively, for brown algae and for red algae. Direct sequencing of the PCR products was carried out. Species identification was based on the phylogenetic relationship. We could objectively identify four species and two taxonomic groups (genus or family) in brown algae, and two species and four taxonomic groups in red algae from the gut contents. Sargassum hemiphyllum was the most abundant brown alga in the gut contents but was not dominant in the study site. The result showed the importance of identification to the species level. In addition, red algal epiphytes were detected with brown algal fragments. The DNA barcoding method will enable the researchers to verify the important role of epiphytes as a potential food source.


rbcDNA barcoding Gut content analysis, macroalgae Sea urchin Hemicentrotus pulcherrimus 



We thank the Wakasamikata Fisheries Cooperative for helping and cooperation with our sampling.


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Copyright information

© Japanese Society of Fisheries Science 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Marine BioscienceFukui Prefectural UniversityObamaJapan
  2. 2.Fukui Prefectural Fisheries Experimental StationTsurugaJapan

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