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Individual Spawning Duration of Captive Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus) Revealed by Mitochondrial DNA Analysis of Eggs

Gordoa, AnaSanz, N.; Viñas, Jordi.  PLoS ONE 10(8): e0136733 (2015)  DIGITAL.CSIC

This study presents the first results on Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) individual spawning duration and its short-term temporal behavior. The study was based on direct measurements resulting from mtDNA analysis of the offspring of spawners held in transport cages during the 2013 spawning monitoring survey in Balearic waters. The number of females consisted of approximately 259 individuals with an average weight of 186 kg. The survey began on May 22 and ended on July 3. Spawning started on May 30 and was observed every night afterwards. The sampling of eggs for genetic monitoring was conducted for 9 days interspersed from the beginning of spawning to the end of the survey. A total of 946 eggs were analyzed and revealed 129 different haplotypes; 77 of these were not previously detected in the Mediterranean. A total of 69 haplotypes were observed in more than one spawning event and those with higher frequency lasted their maximum possible duration. The haplotypes present at the beginning of spawning were also identified at the end of the sampling, indicating a minimum spawning duration of 34 days, and individual annual fecundity was estimated at around 1290 eggs gr-1. These results differed from those generally presumed until now and are indicative of a much higher fecundity. Females exhibited a regular spawning schedule but with the capacity to shift the spawning hour during the spawning season. These results were observed for the eastern population of Atlantic bluefin tuna and before extrapolating to the western population, their validity should be proved.