Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Smithsonian scientists link unusual fish larva to new species of sea bass from Curacao


'Oh, the mother and child reunion is only a moment away,' -- Paul Simon

Identifying larval stages of marine fishes in the open ocean is difficult because the young fishes often bear little or no resemblance to the adults they will become. Confronted with a perplexing fish larva collected in the Florida Straits, Smithsonian scientists turned to DNA barcoding, which yielded an unexpected discovery—a match between the mysterious fish larva and adults of a new species of sea bass discovered off the coast of Curacao. The team's research is published in the May 13 issue of PLOS ONE.

The larva at the center of this study. The scientists recognized it as a member of the sea bass family Serranidae but were intrigued by its seven very elongate dorsal-fin spines.

Credit: Smithsonian

An adult of the new species of sea bass, Liopropoma olneyi, recently discovered in the deep reefs of Curacao. Once discovered, it simultaneously solved the identification mystery of a fish larva found in the Florida Straits.

Credit: Barry Brown, Substation Curacao

Most marine fishes have a pelagic larval stage that drifts in the surface or near-surface currents of the ocean―an environment very different from the one they inhabit as adults. Two different environments often require two different body shapes and appearances, resulting in larvae that look very different from the adults of the same species.

The larva at the center of this study first came to the team's attention from a photograph without identification in another research paper. The scientists recognized it as a member of the sea bass family Serranidae but were intrigued by its seven very elongate dorsal-fin spines.

"This feature isn't known in any Atlantic sea bass larvae, but it is similar to one species of Indo-Pacific sea bass," said David Johnson, a zoologist at Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. "We initially thought the larva must have been caught in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, but we were wrong." The fish larva in the photo was in fact caught in the Florida Straits.

The team obtained the preserved larval fish for further study and were met with an immediate mystery—a DNA sequence from the specimen did not match any known fish species. That, along with unique morphological features, led the scientists to begin describing the larva as a new species despite the absence of adults.

Meanwhile, in a separate project, Smithsonian scientists were using a manned submersible to explore the deep-reef fish species off of Curacao in the southern Caribbean. Among the fish collected were "golden basses," which the team identified as Liopropoma aberrans based on general color pattern; however, genetic analyses revealed more than one species. Combining this new genetic information with available DNA barcoding data for all western Atlantic sea bass specimens yielded an unexpected discovery: The larva from the Florida Straits is the pelagic stage of a cryptic new species of Liopropoma from southern Caribbean deep reefs. The mystery was solved, and a new species of sea bass—now known as Liopropoma olneyi—was discovered.

The team named the new species in honor of a deceased colleague, John E. Olney, who studied and taught courses about marine fish larvae.

"This was one of those cases where all the stars were properly aligned," said Carole Baldwin, a zoologist at Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. "We discover a new species of sea bass on Curacao deep reefs that just happens to be the missing adult stage of a larval fish from Florida, which we only knew existed because it was included as 'decoration' in a scientific publication. What a great little fish story!"

Deep reefs, which extend from depths of 150 to more than 1,000 feet, are underexplored ecosystems worldwide. "You can't access them using traditional SCUBA gear, and if you're paying a lot of money for a deep-diving submersible that goes to Titanic depths, you're not stopping at 300 or 800 feet to look for fishes, said Baldwin. "Science has largely missed the deep-reef zone, and it appears to be home to a lot of life that we didn't know about."

Researchers are now able to study deep reefs in the southern Caribbean because of the availability of the Curasub submersible, a privately owned, manned submersible capable of descending to 1,000 feet. The work off Curacao resulting in the discovery of L. olneyi is part of the Smithsonian's Deep Reef Observation Project.

"We are only beginning to understand the phenomenal diversity of life that inhabits deep Caribbean reefs," said Baldwin.

John Gibbons | Eurek Alert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Caribbean DNA Deep Indo-Pacific Liopropoma olneyi Smithsonian Straits barcoding larva larval species

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Understanding a missing link in how antidepressants work
25.11.2015 | Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, München

nachricht Plant Defense as a Biotech Tool
25.11.2015 | Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (ACIB)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

Im Focus: Laser process simulation available as app for first time

In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.

Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...

Im Focus: Quantum Simulation: A Better Understanding of Magnetism

Heidelberg physicists use ultracold atoms to imitate the behaviour of electrons in a solid

Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...

Im Focus: Climate Change: Warm water is mixing up life in the Arctic

AWI researchers’ unique 15-year observation series reveals how sensitive marine ecosystems in polar regions are to change

The warming of arctic waters in the wake of climate change is likely to produce radical changes in the marine habitats of the High North. This is indicated by...

Im Focus: Nanocarriers may carry new hope for brain cancer therapy

Berkeley Lab researchers develop nanoparticles that can carry therapeutics across the brain blood barrier

Glioblastoma multiforme, a cancer of the brain also known as "octopus tumors" because of the manner in which the cancer cells extend their tendrils into...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Gluten oder nicht Gluten? Überempfindlichkeit auf Weizen kann unterschiedliche Ursachen haben

17.11.2015 | Event News

Art Collection Deutsche Börse zeigt Ausstellung „Traces of Disorder“

21.10.2015 | Event News

Siemens Healthcare introduces the Cios family of mobile C-arms

20.10.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Plant Defense as a Biotech Tool

25.11.2015 | Life Sciences

“move“ – on course for the mobility of the future

25.11.2015 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Understanding a missing link in how antidepressants work

25.11.2015 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>