Novel single-nucleotide polymorphism markers confirm successful spawning of endangered pallid sturgeon in the upper Missouri River Basin

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
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Abstract

Spawning of the federally endangered Pallid Sturgeon Scaphirhynchus albus is known to occur in the upper Missouri River basin, but progeny from natural reproductive events have not been observed and recruitment to juvenile or adult life stages has not been documented in recent decades. Identification of Pallid Sturgeon progeny is confounded by the fact that Shovelnose Sturgeon S. platorynchus occurs throughout the entire range of Pallid Sturgeon and the two species are essentially indistinguishable (morphometrically and meristically) during early life stages. Moreover, free embryos of sympatric Paddlefish Polyodon spathula are very similar to the two sturgeon species. In this study, three single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) assays were employed to screen acipenseriform free embryos and larvae collected from the upper Missouri River basin in 2011, 2012, and 2013. A mitochondrial DNA SNP discriminates Paddlefish from sturgeon, and specific multilocus genotypes at two nuclear DNA SNPs occurred in 98.9% of wild adult Pallid Sturgeon but only in 3% of Shovelnose Sturgeon sampled in the upper Missouri River. Individuals identified as potential Pallid Sturgeon based on SNP genotypes were further analyzed at 19 microsatellite loci for species discrimination. Out of 1,423 free embryos collected over 3 years of sampling, 971 Paddlefish, 446 Shovelnose Sturgeon, and 6 Pallid Sturgeon were identified. Additionally, 249 Scaphirhynchus spp. benthic larvae were screened, but no Pallid Sturgeon were detected. These SNP markers provide an efficient method of screening acipenseriform early life stages for the presence of Pallid Sturgeon in the Missouri River basin. Detection of wild Pallid Sturgeon free embryos in the upper Missouri and Yellowstone rivers supports the hypothesis that the failure of wild Pallid Sturgeon to recruit to the juvenile life stage in the upper Missouri River basin is caused by early life stage mortality rather than by lack of successful spawning.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Novel single-nucleotide polymorphism markers confirm successful spawning of endangered pallid sturgeon in the upper Missouri River Basin
Series title Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
DOI 10.1080/00028487.2014.935479
Volume 143
Issue 6
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher American Fisheries Society
Publisher location Bethesda, MD
Contributing office(s) Columbia Environmental Research Center
Description 14 p.
First page 1373
Last page 1385