Background: Studies on artificial hybridization of different Anguilla species were conducted recently, i.e. female A. australis with male A. dieffenbachii, and female A. japonica with male A. anguilla. The existence of these artificial hybrids was however not demonstrated by independent genetic methods. Two species - A. anguilla and A. australis - that are phylogenetically close but have different sexual maturation times (12-25 weeks and 6-8 weeks, respectively), were expected to produce favourable hybrids for reproduction studies. Results: A modification of the protocol for the reproduction of Anguilla japonica was used to produce eight-day Anguilla australis larvae, with a success rate of 71.4%. Thus ten out of 14 females produced eggs that could be fertilized, and three batches resulted in mass hatching. Hybrid larvae from female A. australis x male A. Anguilla survived for up to seven days post fertilization (dpf). The early development of the hybrid showed typical characteristics of A. anguilla tail pigmentation at 50 hours post fertilization (hpf), indicating expression of genes derived from the father. Conclusions: In this paper we describe the first production of hybrid larvae from male A. anguilla and female A. australis and their survival for up to 7 dpf. A species-specific nucleotide difference in the 18 S rDNA gene confirmed that genes from both A. australis and A. anguilla were present in the hybrids. The developmental stages of the hybrid eel embryos and larvae are described using high resolution images. Video footage also indicated a heart beat in 5-dpf larva.
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