Aquaculture and Biodiversity Group of the Animal Science and Technology at Polytechnic University of Valencia. (Photo: UPV)
Early eel larvae obtained after IVF
Thursday, May 31, 2012, 03:10 (GMT + 9)
Researchers at the Aquaculture and Biodiversity Group (GAB) of the Institute of Animal Science and Technology of the Polytechnic University of Valencia managed to obtain larvae of European eel (Anguilla anguilla), an unprecedented event in the country.
The larvae were obtained after subjecting males and females to hormonal treatments for several months, under certain environmental conditions. Scientists synchronized the gathering of eggs and sperm, and performed in vitro fertilizations.
After 200 to 300 days, the eel larvae transform into elver, and after about two years they become the eels reaching the markets for final consumption.
This research is led by Luz Pérez, a scientist at GAB-UPV. Experts are studying the effect of temperature on female eel reproduction in the framework of the Pro-Eel project, funded by the European Union (EU).
This research group had already attempted the reproduction of eel larvae in 2004, 2005 and 2006 but the fertilized eggs had only originated early embryonic stages that failed to complete their development until hatching, the university reported.
However, on this occasion many egg-laying events were achieved and in the eggs from four females the embryonic development was completed and the larva hatching was observed two to three days after fertilization.
The reproduction in nature occurs in the deep ocean waters of the Sargasso Sea in the Atlantic Ocean. But conditions are difficult to mimic in a laboratory, so the result obtained has great scientific importance.
The European eel is on the list of threatened species by the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (Cites) because the wild population is declining significantly.
Therefore, the EU prohibits marketing in countries outside the community bloc.
- European scientists analyse progress in eel farming
By Analia Murias