Two New Eel Species Discovered

Researchers from the National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources (NBFGR) have discovered two new species of Congrid eels from the coasts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The species add to India’s marine biodiversity knowledge in relatively less studied fish groups like eels.

Species Named After Eminent Researchers

The eel found in the Gulf of Mannar has been named Ariosoma kannani, honoring the late Prof. L Kannan, renowned marine biologist from Annamalai University. The Kerala coast species is called Ariosoma gracile for its morphological traits. Taxonomically, both belong to the genus Ariosoma within the eel order Anguilliformes.

Exploratory Surveys Reveal New Species

NBFGR teams conducted exploratory surveys along the Rameswaram and Kochi coasts, collecting eel specimens. Detailed morphological, skeletal, genetic and computational analysis conclusively proved them to be distinct, previously unknown species.

Comprehensive Studies on Species Planned

According to NBFGR scientists, comprehensive research on the eels is required to understand their evolutionary biology and phenotypic characteristics. The aim is to analyze protein profiles and recommend them as food sources after safety studies. Documenting India’s rich coastal bio-resources aids their sustainable utilization.

Expanding Eel Species Discovered

With the latest discoveries, NBFGR has explored 12 new eel species earlier unknown from India – 6 each from the Tamil Nadu and Kerala coasts. Targeted surveys of insufficiently studied fish taxa are significantly expanding India’s aquatic biodiversity inventory.

Holotype Specimens Housed in Repositories

As per taxonomic protocols, the holotype specimens of both Ariosoma kannani and A. gracile have been preserved at NBFGR’s National Fish Museum in Lucknow. Their scientific names and descriptions have been officially registered with the ZooBank database of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature.

Significance for India’s Blue Economy Goals

Documenting new marine species, especially economically valuable groups like eels, aligns with India’s blue economy priorities. Comprehensive biological surveys and bio-prospecting of coastal ecosystems boosts their conservation and ensures sustainable utilization of living resources.

Future Scope for Genetic Research

The discovery also opens up further research opportunities for analyzing the DNA, evolutionary linkage and phylogenetics of the new eel species in relation to other Indian and global congrid genera. Cross-disciplinary studies with genetic tools can yield insights on their adaptation to local ecosystems.



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