Estimating cod egg developmental stage based on DNA concentration
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionICES Journal of Marine Science. 2017, . 10.1093/icesjms/fsx172
Pelagic egg surveys are commonly used to map Atlantic cod spawning areas in the northeastern Atlantic. However, a sampling location may not necessarily indicate a spawning location, because more developed eggs may have drifted long distances in coastal currents. Newly spawned eggs have only a few embryonic cells, whereas eggs in later developmental stages have progressively larger numbers of cells and hence greater amounts of DNA. The progression through developmental stages largely depends on temperature, which influences cell division and growth. Preservation of the eggs for later analysis presents logistical dilemmas. Preservation in ethanol is suitable for DNA extraction but obscures developmental stage, as the eggs shrink and turn opaque. On the other hand, preservation in formaldehyde retains visual characteristics, but this method limits the ability to extract intact DNA. Here we report a method to estimate developmental stages in Atlantic cod eggs by assaying the amount of DNA from eggs preserved in ethanol. We used a correlation between the amount of DNA in an egg and its embryonic developmental stage in samples from western Norway and used this correlation to estimate developmental stages of eggs sampled in northern Norway.