Limited insight into eel larvae feeding and diet prevents a holistic overview of the life-cycle of catadromous eels and an understanding of the ecological position of their early stages in marine waters. The present study evaluated the diet of larval European eel, Anguilla anguilla - a critically endangered species. Next-generation 18S rRNA gene sequencing data of Sargasso Sea eel larvae gut contents and marine snow aggregates was compared with a reference plankton database to assess the trophic relations of eel larvae. Gut contents of A. anguilla larvae were not well explained by the eukaryotic composition of marine snow aggregates; gut contents being dominated by gene sequences of Hydrozoa taxa (phylum Cnidaria), while snow aggregates were dominated by Crustacea taxa. Pronounced differences between gut contents and marine snow aggregates were also seen in the prokaryotic 16S rRNA gene composition. The findings, in concert with significant abundances of Hydrozoa in the study area, suggest that Hydrozoa plankton are important in the diet of A. anguilla larvae, and that consideration of these organisms would further our understanding of A. anguilla feeding strategies in the oligotrophic Sargasso Sea, which may be important for potential future rearing of A. anguilla larvae in captivity.
Ayala, D. J., Munk, P., Lundgreen, R. L., Traving, S. J., Jaspers, C., Jørgensen, T. S., Hansen, L., & Riemann, L. (2018). Gelatinous plankton is important in the diet of European eel (Anguilla anguilla) larvae in the Sargasso Sea. Scientific Reports, 8, . https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-24388-x