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A comparison of methods for determining ploidy in white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus)

  • Author(s): Fiske, Julia A
  • Van Eenennaam, Joel P
  • Todgham, Anne E
  • Young, Shawn P
  • Holem-Bell, Cara E
  • Goodbla, Alisha M
  • Schreier, Andrea D
  • et al.

© 2019 Release of sturgeon with abnormal ploidy into the wild may result in reduced fitness due to lowered fertility in the F2 and subsequent generations. Further, there is evidence that ploidy affects reproductive development and caviar yield. Therefore, the ability to accurately characterize the ploidy of white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus)is essential for both commercial and conservation aquaculture. This study compares nuclear volume and whole erythrocyte long-axis lengths obtained using Coulter counter and blood smears, respectively, from captive white sturgeon from populations originating in California and Idaho. We examine which method provides the most accurate, time efficient and cost-effective characterization of ploidy in this species. Results from Coulter counter and blood smears were compared to results from flow cytometry, the gold standard for genome size analysis. Previous work suggests that blood smears can distinguish between 8N (diploid)and 12N (triploid)sturgeon, but further analysis is required to see if this method can also be used to identify 10N fish and to provide robust evidence of its utility in 8N and 12N fish across populations. In this study, we demonstrated that the Coulter counter had 100% agreement with flow cytometry in ploidy assignment, while blood smears vary in their accuracy based on population. Blood smears showed a high degree of overlap in erythrocyte long-axis length between 8N and 10N individuals as well as some overlap between 10N and 12N individuals in the California fish, and a high degree of overlap between 8N and 12N individuals in the Idaho fish. Although blood smears are time-intensive and vary in their ploidy assignment accuracy, they are a low-cost technique and as such may have some utility for caviar farms attempting to identify 12N individuals in a small number of broodstock. By comparing the accuracy, efficiency and cost of these three methods, sturgeon farmers and conservation hatcheries will be able to choose the best method for their needs in determining the ploidy of their fish. We determined that Coulter counter is equally accurate to flow cytometry and is also the most time efficient method for ploidy determination in white sturgeon.

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