The marbled goby, Pomatoschistus marmoratus, as a promising species for experimental evolution studies


Breeding and rearing the offspring through successive generations are mandatory in order to study evolutionary responses to anthropogenic impact in marine organisms. However, fish offer a limited number of marine model species that allow performing multigenerational experimental approaches. Here, we propose a novel breeding and rearing experimental model based on the marbled goby Pomatoschistus marmoratus (Risso 1810) which is representative of small (up to 65 mm total length), benthic species with a short life cycle. We devised a ‘full-sib/half-sib’ breeding design, and the resulting offspring were reared in captivity using a complex feeding protocol and a creative design of the tanks. Three families survived up to 160 days post-hatching (dph); one was reared at 24 °C and two at 18 °C. The families reared at 18 °C reached sexual maturity and spawned. The size range at sexual maturity of individuals reared in captivity was consistent with the one observed in nature. The possibility to complete the entire life cycle, from hatching to sexual maturity and spawning in P. marmoratus offers great perspectives for experimental evolution and quantitative genetics studies aimed at understanding the role of evolutionary processes in response to global changes.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Lisa Locatello.

Ethics declarations


This study was supported by “Progetto Giovani Studiosi 2014” (2124PRGR14) from the University of Padova to LL.

Human and animal rights

The study did not involve endangered or protected species and was carried out in accordance with current Italian regulations for the use of animals in scientific procedures. Sampling and experimental procedures were reviewed and approved by the animal ethics committee of the University of Padova (OPBA, permission no. 134730). Animal collection in the field was authorised by Regione Veneto, Giunta Regionale (decreto 20, 14 March 2015).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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Locatello, L., Santon, M., Mazzoldi, C. et al. The marbled goby, Pomatoschistus marmoratus, as a promising species for experimental evolution studies. Org Divers Evol 17, 709–716 (2017).

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  • Fish
  • Experimental evolution
  • Marbled goby
  • Rearing in captivity