Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures


DEEPEND: Matching Unidentified Larvae to Adults Using Molecular Methods

Event Name/Location

2017 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana, February 6-9, 2017

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Many species of marine animals undergo major transformations and re-organizations of their appearance and physiology during metamorphosis from larval to juvenile or adult forms. These transformations are fascinating, but lead to problems of identification of the larval organisms involved. One method of determining which species an unusual larval actually is requires growing larvae in culture and observing the transformation as it happens. This is virtually impossible for deep-sea and oceanic animals. We have been using molecular genetics to match unusual larvae to their respective adult forms. Using leptocephali larvae of eels as an example, we can now demonstrate the identity of several problematic fish larvae and link oceanic larval life history phases to adults with previously unknown larvae.


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