Range distribution and contributions to taxonomy of Elops smithi (ELOPIFORMES: ELOPIDAE)

RODRIGO P.C. DE SOUSA DENISE SODRÉ RAUQUÍRIO M. DA COSTA MARCELO VALLINOTO EDIVALDO H.C. OLIVEIRA GLÁUCIA C. SILVA-OLIVEIRA IRACILDA SAMPAIO AURYCÉIA GUIMARÃES-COSTA About the authors

Abstract

Abstract: This study presents the first record of Elops smithi for northern Brazil. The evidence suggests this species is being misidentified incorrectly as Elops saurus in estuaries of the Western Atlantic Ocean. Here, morphological, molecular, and cytogenetic evidence identified all ladyfish specimens from one estuary in the region as E. smithi. Thus, at least Elops smithi occurs in the northern coast of Brazil and it is recommended that specimens from this region identified as E. saurus be further investigated with genetic and cytogenetic tools in order to assure a correct species identification.

Key words
Elopidae; Karyotype; Ladyfish; Malacho; Mitochondrial DNA


INTRODUCTION

The family Elopidae includes only the genus Elops, with seven species distributed throughout the tropics. Until recently, the ladyfish, Elops saurus, was the only elopid species known to occur in the northwestern Atlantic (ObermillerOBERMILLER LE and PFEILER E. 2003. Phylogenetic relationships of elopomorph fishes inferred from mitochondrial ribosomal DNA sequences. Mol Phylogen Evol 26: 202-214. and Pfeiler 2003, McBrideMCBRIDE RS, ROCHA CR, RUIZ-CARUS R and BOWEN BW. 2010. A new species of ladyfish, of the genus Elops (Elopiformes: Elopidae), from the western Atlantic Ocean. Zootaxa 2346: 29-41. et al. 2010). However, SmithSMITH DG. 1989. Order Elopiformes; Families Elopidae, Megalopidae, and Albulidae: Leptocephali. Memoir Sears Foundation for Marine Research. In Fishes of the Western North Atlantic, Vol. 3. Sears Foundation for Marine Research, p. 961-972. New Haven, CO: Yale University. (1989) identified the presence of two sympatric larval morphs within this area, distinguished by the number of myomeres. Based on the analysis of mitochondrial Cytb sequences and morphological data, McBride et al. (2010) confirmed that the morph with the lower myomere count was, in fact, a distinct species, which they denominated Elops smithi. The divergence of the Cytb haplotypes of E. saurus and E. smithi ranged from 2.3% to 2.9% (McBride et al. 2010).

Elops saurus is distributed throughout the northwestern Atlantic, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula, and was originally considered to inhabit only the Northern Hemisphere, while E. smithi occurs in the central Atlantic, Bahamas, and the Caribbean Sea, and is sympatric with E. saurus on the southeastern coast of the United States and in the Gulf of Mexico (McBrideMCBRIDE RS and HORODYSKY AZ. 2004. Mechanisms maintaining sympatric distributions of two ladyfish (Elopidae: Elops) morphs in the Gulf of Mexico and western North Atlantic Ocean. Limnol Oceanogr 49: 1173-1181. and Horodysky 2004, McBride et al. 2010).

In the southwestern Atlantic, E. smithi has been recorded in marine, coastal, and estuarine environments (LucenaLUCENA CAS and CARVALHO-NETO P. 2012. Elopomorpha leptocephali from Southern Brazil: a new report of Albula sp. (Albulidae) and first record of Elops smithi (Elopidae) in Brazilian waters. Biotemas 25: 297-301. and Carvalho-Neto 2012, MachadoMACHADO I, VERA M, CALLIARI D and RODRÍGUEZ-GRAÑA L. 2012. First record of an Elops smithi (Pisces: Elopidae) larva in a South American subtropical temperate estuary. Marine Biodivers Rec 5: 1-5. et al. 2012, Sánchez-BoteroSÁNCHEZ-BOTERO JI, GARCEZ DS, LEITÃO RP, TRIVÉRIO-CARDOSO V, CARVALHO PH and PELLEGRINI-CARAMASCHI E. 2016. Aberturas del Cordón de Arena de La Laguna Costera Imboassica (Estado De Rio De Janeiro, Brazil) no alteran la abundancia de los peces comerciales. Bol Inst Pesca 42: 662-673. et al. 2016). In most surveys of fish populations on the Brazilian coast, however, E. saurus has been identified as the most common elopid species (FrancoFRANCO TP, ARAÚJO CEO and ARAÚJO FG. 2014. Length–weight relationships for 25 fish species from three coastal lagoons in Southeastern Brazil. J Appl Ichthyol 30: 248-250. et al. 2014, GarciaGARCIA - JÚNIOR J, NÓBREGA MF and OLIVEIRA JEL. 2015. Coastal fishes of Rio Grande do Norte, northeastern Brazil, with new records. Check List 11: 1-24.-Junior et al. 2015, PinheiroPINHEIRO HT, MADUREIRA JMC, JOYEUX JC and MARTINS AS. 2015. Fish diversity of a southwestern Atlantic coastal island: aspects of distribution and conservation in a marine zoogeographical boundary. Check List 11: 1615. et al. 2015, MarceniukMARCENIUK AP, CAIRES RA and ROTUNDO MM. 2017. The icthyofauna (Teleostei) of the Rio Caeté estuary, northeast Pará, Brazil, with a species identification key from northern Brazilian coast. Pan-Amer J Aquat Sci 12: 31-79. et al. 2017, MedeirosMEDEIROS APM, XAVIER JHDA, DA SILVA MB, AIRES-SOUZA L and ROSA IMDL. 2018. Distribution patterns of the fish assemblage in the Mamanguape River Estuary, North-eastern Brazil. Mar Biol Res 14: 524-536. et al. 2018, MendesMENDES AB, DUARTE MR and SILVA EP. 2018. Biodiversity of Holocene marine fish of the southeast coast of Brazil. Biota Neotrop 18: 1-14. et al. 2018).

In studies of fish, a cytogenetic approach has become an increasingly effective tool for the identification of cryptic species (HarrisonHARRISON IJ, NIRCHIO M, OLIVEIRA C, RON E and GAVIRIA J. 2007. A new species of mullet (Teleostei: Mugilidae) from Venezuela, with a discussion on the taxonomy of Mugil gaimardianus. J Fish Biol 71: 76-97. et al. 2007, MartinezMARTINEZ JL, LUI RL, TRALDI JB, BLANCO DR and MOREIRA-FILHO O. 2016. Comparative Cytogenetics of Hoplerythrinus unitaeniatus (Agassiz, 1829) (Characiformes, Erythrinidae) Species Complex from Different Brazilian Hydrographic Basins. Cytogen Gen Res 149: 191-200. et al. 2016), the elucidation of the origin of hybrids (MajtánováMAJTÁNOVÁ Z, CHOLEVA L, SYMONOVÁ R, RÁB P, KOTUSZ J and PEKÁRIK L. 2016. Asexual Reproduction Does Not Apparently Increase the Rate of Chromosomal Evolution: Karyotype Stability in Diploid and Triploid Clonal Hybrid Fish (Cobitis, Cypriniformes, Teleostei). PLoS ONE: 11. et al. 2016, PereiraPEREIRA CSA, ABOIM MA, RÁ P and COLLARES-PEREIRA MJ. 2014. Introgressive hybridization as a promoter of genome reshuffling in natural homoploid fish hybrids (Cyprinidae, Leuciscinae). Heredity 112: 343-350. et al. 2014), and the interpretation of phylogenetic relationships (Majtánová et al. 2017MAJTÁNOVÁ Z, SYMONOVÁ R, ARIAS-RODRIGUEZ L, SALLAN L and RÁB P. 2017. “Holostei versus Halecostomi” Problem: Insight from Cytogenetics of Ancient Nonteleost Actinopterygian Fish, Bowfin Amia Calva. J Exp Zool Part B 328: 1-9., RamirezRAMIREZ JL, BIRINDELLI J and GALETTI PMJR. 2017. A New Genus of Anostomidae (Ostariophysi: Characiformes): Diversity, Phylogeny and Biogeography Based on Cytogenetic, Molecular and Morphological Data. Mol Phylogen Evol 107: 308-323. et al. 2017), as well as the understanding of chromosome structure (JacobinaJACOBINA UP, CIOFFI MB, SOUZA LGR, CALADO LL, TAVARES M, MANZELLA J, BERTOLLO LAC and MOLINA WF. 2011. Chromosome mapping of repetitive sequences in Rachycentron canadum (Perciformes: Rachycentridae): implications for karyotypic evolution and perspectives for biotechnological uses. J Biomed Biotechnol 2011: 1-8. et al. 2011). Until now, the only cytogenetic data available for the family Elopidae refer to the diploid number of E. saurus (DoucetteDOUCETTE AJ and FITZSIMONS JM. 1982. Karyology of the ladyfishes Elops saurus. Jap J Ichthyol 29: 223-226. and Fitzsimons 1982). The present study provides the first records of E. smithi from the region of the Brazilian Amazon estuary and discusses the relative effectiveness of morphological-meristic, molecular, and cytogenetic data approaches for the identification of the species.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

COLLECTION OF Elops smithi SPECIMENS

Larval, juvenile, and adult Elops specimens were collected for this study. The larvae were collected from the subsurface layer (≈ 0.5 m depth) of the water column in the Taperaçu estuary in northern Brazil (46°45’25.2” W, 0°56’47.1” S; Fig. 1, zone 1) with horizontal plankton trawls with conical nets with mesh of 300 μm and 500 μm. Once collected, some E. smithi larvae were immediately stored in 70% alcohol for molecular analyses, while others were stored in 4% formaldehyde for meristic analyses. The larvae were identified based on the literature (BoneckerBONECKER ACT and CASTRO MS. 2006. Atlas de Larvas de Peixes da Região Central da Zona Econômica Exclusiva Brasileira, 1ª ed., Rio de Janeiro, RJ: Séries Livros. and Castro 2006, McBride et al. 2010), and described following the general criteria and terminology proposed by GehringerGEHRINGER JW. 1959. Early development and metamorphosis of the tenpounder Elops saurus Linnaeus. Fish Bullet 59: 618-647. (1959).

Figure 1
Study area: South America (a), Northern Brazil coast (b), and positions of the sampling stations in Pará coastal zone - 1, Taperaçu estuary; 2, salt lagoon; 3, continental shelf (c).

Ten juveniles were collected from a saline lagoon located in a tract of mangrove near the Taperaçu estuary (46°40’5.71” W, 0°53’53.22” S; Fig. 1, zone 2) using a fishing net with a 25 mm mesh. The adult specimen was captured on the adjacent continental shelf (46°35’24.0” W, 0°49’32.0” S; Fig. 1, zone 3) using the same net. All specimens were deposited in the ichthyological collection of the Ichthyology Laboratory of the Aquatic Ecology Group at the Federal University of Pará in Belém (GEA.ICT).

DNA EXTRACTION, PCR, AND SEQUENCING

To confirm the identification of the species, DNA was extracted from the specimens based on the standard protocol for the DNA Wizard Genomic Purification kit (Promega Corporation, Madison, WI - USA). A fragment of the mitochondrial Cytochrome b (Cytb) gene was amplified by PCR, using the primers Cyb-09H (SongSONG CB, NEAR TJ and PAGE LM. 1998. Phylogenetic relations among percid fishes as inferred from mitochondrial cytochrome b DNA sequence data. Mol Phylogen Evol 10: 343-353. et al. 1998) and Cyb-07L (TaberletTABERLET P, MEYER A and BOUVET J. 1992. Unusually large mitochondrial variation in populations of the blue tit, Parus caeruleus. Mol Ecol 1: 27-36. et al. 1992), using the protocol described by McBride et al. (2010). The amplified products were purified using the ExoSAP-IT enzyme and sequenced in an ABI 3500 automatic sequencer (Applied Biosystems) using a Big-Dye Terminator Cycle Sequencing kit (Applied Biosystems).

MOLECULAR ANALYSES

The Cytb sequences were amplified to investigate the genetic differences and similarities between our specimens and the elopid species found in the southwestern Atlantic (E. saurus and E. smithi) and eastern Pacific (Elops affinis). The osteoglossid Osteoglossum bicirhosum (Vandelli 1829) was used as the outgroup. Genetic divergence was determined based on the Kimura 2-parameter statistic (K2P), and a neighbor-joining distance tree (bootstrap with 1,000 pseudo-replicates) of the Elops species was constructed in MEGA version 7 (KumarKUMAR S, STECHER G and TAMURA K. 2016. MEGA7: molecular evolutionary genetics analysis version 7.0 for bigger datasets. Mol Biol Evol 33: 1870-1874. et al. 2016).

CYTOGENETIC ANALYSES

Fragments of fin were removed from the specimens in the laboratory. Cell culture followed the protocol of SasakiSASAKI M, IKEUCHI T and MAINO S. 1968. A feather pulp culture for avian chromosomes with notes on the chromosomes of the peafowl and the ostrich. Experientia 24: 923-1929. et al. (1968), and mitotic chromosomes were obtained from a fixed and hypotonized cell suspension by the air-drying procedure (BertolloBERTOLLO LAC, TAKAHASHI CS and MOREIRA-FILHO O. 1978. Cytotaxonomic considerations on Hoplias lacerdae (Pisces, Erythrinidae). Braz J Genetic 1: 103-120. et al. 1978). The chromosomes were NOR-banded to reveal the active nucleolus organizer regions, following the procedure developed by HowellHOWELL WM and BLACK DA. 1980. Controlled silver staining of nucleolus organizer regions with a protective colloidal developer: a 1-step method. Experientia 36: 1014-1015. and Black (1980). The banded metaphases were visualized and photographed under a LEICA 1000 DM microscope, in a light field with an immersion lens. The karyotype of the species was assembled using GENASIS version 7.2.6.19509.

MORPHOLOGICAL ANALYSES

The reliability of the diagnostic characteristics described in previous studies was assessed by comparing the morphological-meristic traits (standard length [SL], number of dorsal, anal, and pectoral rays, total number of myomeres, and number of pre-anal myomeres) of the Elops specimens collected in the present study with the parameters described in the literature.

RESULTS

MORPHOLOGICAL AND MOLECULAR IDENTIFICATION OF THE Elops smithi LARVAE

A total of 59 E. smithi larvae were identified in the plankton samples collected from the Taperaçu estuary. The shortest standard length of a larva was 22.99 mm, and the longest, 34.95 mm, with a mean of 29.27±4.81 mm. The most effective morphological character for the identification of E. smithi was the pre-anal myomere count. The larvae collected in the Taperaçu estuary had 61–67 pre-anal myomeres.

The larvae represented two development stages, the leptocephalus (64.40% of the larvae) and pre-metamorphic (35.60%) stages. The juveniles and the only adult specimen presented 21–22 dorsal fin rays, 14 anal fin rays and 13–14 pectoral fin rays.

In the present study the E. smithi larvae were captured in a saline estuary, which is consistent with the data on the larval ecology of E. saurus. The juveniles (SL: 175–180 mm) were also collected in a coastal saline lagoon near the Taperaçu estuary. The adult specimen (SL: 470 mm) was collected at sea, 41.8 Km off the coast of Pará.

Comparisons of the Cytb sequences with those of the Elops species available in GenBank indicated that all the specimens collected on the coast of Pará belonged to the species E. smithi (Fig. 2A). This diagnosis was further reinforced by the mean genetic distance of 0.8% within the group that includes the specimens collected during the present study and E. smithi from other areas in the coastal western Atlantic (Table I).

Figure 2
a) Distance tree (neighbour-joining) with Elops species: pre-metamorphic larvae (33.31 mm SL), juvenile individual (175 mm SL), and adult individual (410 mm SL). The numbers at the branches are the bootstrap support values for K2P; b) Karyotype of Elops smithi stained conventionally with Giemsa and the nucleolar organizer region (NOR) bearing pair (14) after silver nitrate staining.
TABLE I
Summary of the pairwise sequence divergence (K2P percentage), based on Cytb gene, between Elops species.

CYTOGENETIC ANALYSES

Fifty metaphases were analyzed to describe the diploid number, and 30 were used to describe the NOR banding. The diploid number of E. smithi was 2n = 50 (6M + 4ST + 42A), with a fundamental number (FN) of 60 (Fig. 2b). The NORs were observed in the centromere of pair 14, presenting different sizes for the banding signals.

DISCUSSION

The present study is the first to record E. smithi (larvae, juveniles and adult specimens) on the Amazon coast of northern Brazil (Fig.1). The majority of the E. smithi larvae analyzed here had 61–67 pre-anal myomeres, which is comparable with the counts recorded for E. smithi in Uruguay (Lucena and Carvalho-Neto 2012) and southern Brazil (Machado et al. 2012). The genetic distances recorded in the Cytb sequences (1.9–2.9%) also distinguished E. smithi unequivocally from E. saurus.

The leptocephali and pre-metamorphic E. smithi larvae were collected in the innermost portion of the Taperaçu estuary, reinforcing the conclusion that this species is estuarine-dependent, as suggested by RayRAY GC. 1997. Do the metapopulation dynamics of estuarine fishes influence the stability of shelf ecosystems. Bullet Mar Sci 60: 1040-1049. (1997) and McBrideMCBRIDE RS, MCDONALD TC, MATHESON RE, RYDENE DA and HOOD PB. 2001. Nursery habitats for ladyfish, Elops saurus, along salinity gradients in two Florida estuaries. Fish Bullet 99: 443-458. et al. (2001). The life stages of Elops species are well-defined, with the adults and early larval stages being found on the continental shelf, while spawning occurs in coastal waters and the later larval and juvenile stages are found in estuaries (Gehringer 1959, EldredELDRED B and LYONS W. 1966. Larval ladyfish, Elops saurus Linnaeus 1766, (Elopidae) in Florida and adjacent waters. Florida Department of Natural Resources, Marine Research Laboratory: Leaflet Series. and Lyons 1966, AdamsADAMS AJ, HORODYSKY AZ, MCBRIDE RS, GUINDON K, SHENKER J, MACDONALD TC, HARWELL HD, WARD R and CARPENTER K. 2014. Global conservation status and research needs for tarpons (Megalopidae), ladyfishes (Elopidae) and bonefishes (Albulidae). Fish Fisher 15: 280-311. et al. 2014).

The karyotype of E. smithi, described here for the first time, is clearly different from that of E. saurus – 2n = 48 (6M/ST + 42ST/A, FN = 54) – which was described by Doucette and Fitzsimons (1982). In E. smithi, not only is the diploid number different, but the whole arrangement is quite distinct – 2n = 50 (6M + 4ST + 40A, NF = 60). These differences provide diagnostic markers for the distinction of the two species, reinforcing the conclusions of Harrison et al. (2007) and SczepanskiSCZEPANSKI TS, NOLETO RB, CESTARI MM and ARTONI RFA. 2010. Comparative study of two marine catfish (Siluriformes, Ariidae): Cytogenetic tools for determining cytotaxonomy and karyotype Evolution. Micron 41: 193-197. et al. (2010) on the importance of these markers for the description of new species of fish.

The E. smithi karyotype has a larger number of two-armed chromosomes than that of E. saurus. As the basal karyotype of marine teleosts is assumed to be 2n = 48 single-armed chromosomes (VitturiVITTURI R, CATALANO E, COLOMBA MS., MONTAGNINO L AND PELLERITO L. 1995. Karyotype analysis of Aphanius fasciatus (Pisces: Cyprinodontiformes): Ag-NORs and C-band polymorphism in four populations from Sicily. Biologisches Zentralblatt 114: 392-402. et al. 1995, NirchioNIRCHIO M, FENOCCHIO AS, SWARC AAC and PÉREZ JE. 2004. Karyology of the toadfish Porichthys plectrodon (Jordan and Gilbert, 1882) (Batrachoididae) from Margarita Island, Venezuela. Mar Biol 146: 161-165. et al. 2004), fusions and chromosomal rearrangements may have played an important role in the chromosomal evolution of the Elopiformes (MerloMERLO MA, CROSS I, SARASQUETE C, PALAZÓN-FERNÁNDEZ JL and REBORDINOS L. 2005. Caracterización cromosómica del pez sapo Halobatrachus didactylus (Schneider. 1801) (Teleostei: Batrachoididae) mediante hibridación in situ de fluorescencia. Bolet Inst Esp Oceanogr 21: 239-246. et al. 2005).

This is the first description of NOR banding in an Elops species, datas of NOR has providing important insights to taxonomy of some groups of fish (BenzaquemBENZAQUEM DC, FELDBERG F, PORTO, JIR, GROSS MC and ZUANON JAS. 2008. Cytotaxonomy and karyoevolution of the genus Crenicichla (Perciformes, Cichlidae). Compar Cytogen 31: 250-255. et al. 2008). In vertebrates, NORs are associated predominantly with the telomeric and interstitial regions of the chromosome, but in E. smithi, these markers were found in the centromeric region, a pattern rarely observed in fish, which has been interpreted as the result of paracentric inversions or translocations (Bittencourt et al. 2014BITENCOURT JA, SAMPAIO I, RAMOS RBT and AFFONSO PRAM. 2014. Chromosomal fusion in Brazilian populations of Trinectes inscriptus Gosse, 1851 (Pleuronectiformes; Achiridae) as revealed by internal telomere sequences (ITS). J Exp Marine Biol Ecol 452: 101-104.). Variations in the size of the NORs in fishes are associated primarily with structural changes, such as duplications and deletions (CrossCROSS I, MERLO A, MANCHADO IM, CANÃVATE CJP and REBORDINOS L. 2006. Cytogenetic characterization of the sole Solea senegalensis (Teleostei: Pleuronectiformes: Soleidae): Ag-NOR, (GATA)n, (TTAGGG)n and ribosomal genes by one-color and two-color FISH. Genetica 12: 253-259. et al. 2006, FujiwaraFUJIWARA A, FUJIWARA M, NISHIDA-UMEHARA C, ABE S and MASAOKA T. 2007. Characterization of Japanese flounder karyotype by chromosome bandings and fluorescence in situ hybridization with DNA markers. Genetica 131: 267-274. et al. 2007). Such events may have occurred during karyotypical evolution of E. smithi.

The findings of this study indicate clearly that the morphological similarities of E. saurus and E. smithi may have led to the frequent misidentification of the specimens collected in past surveys. Given this, existing specimens from the northern Brazilian coast identified as E. saurus require new genetic or cytogenetic confirmation, given that sympatry of these two species on the western coast of the South Atlantic is yet to be confirmed.

ACKNOWLEGMENTS

This study was financed by Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), the Evandro Chagas Institute (IEC) and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq). MV is supported by a CNPq fellowship (302 892/2016-8).

REFERENCES

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  • MARTINEZ JL, LUI RL, TRALDI JB, BLANCO DR and MOREIRA-FILHO O. 2016. Comparative Cytogenetics of Hoplerythrinus unitaeniatus (Agassiz, 1829) (Characiformes, Erythrinidae) Species Complex from Different Brazilian Hydrographic Basins. Cytogen Gen Res 149: 191-200.
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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    02 Dec 2019
  • Date of issue
    2019

History

  • Received
    28 Nov 2018
  • Accepted
    29 Aug 2019
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