Open Access Research article

Fertility of a spontaneous hexaploid male Siberian sturgeon, Acipenser baerii

Miloš Havelka1*, Martin Hulák1, Petr Ráb2, Marie Rábová2, Dietmar Lieckfeldt3, Arne Ludwig3, Marek Rodina1, David Gela1, Martin Pšenička1, Dmytro Bytyutskyy1 and Martin Flajšhans1

Author Affiliations

1 University of South Bohemia in Ceske Budejovice, Faculty of Fisheries and Protection of Waters, South Bohemian Research Center of Aquaculture and Biodiversity of Hydrocenoses, Zátiší 728/II, 389 25 Vodňany, Czech Republic

2 Laboratory of Fish Genetics, Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics, Czech Academy of Sciences, 277 21 Liběchov, Czech Republic

3 Department for Evolutionary Genetics, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, 10324 Berlin, Germany

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BMC Genetics 2014, 15:5  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-15-5

Published: 10 January 2014



Evolution of sturgeons and paddlefishes (order Acipenseriformes) is inherently connected with polyploidization events which resulted in differentiation of ploidy levels and chromosome numbers of present acipenseriform species. Moreover, allopolyploidization as well as autopolyploidization seems to be an ongoing process in these fishes and individuals with abnormal ploidy levels were occasionally observed within sturgeon populations. Here, we reported occurrence of Siberian sturgeon (Acipenser baerii) male with abnormal ploidy level for this species, accessed its ploidy level and chromosome number and investigate its potential sterility or fertility in comparison with normal individuals of sterlet (A. ruthenus), Russian sturgeon (A. gueldenstaedtii) and Siberian sturgeon (A. baerii).


Acipenser ruthenus possessed 120 chromosomes, exhibiting recent diploidy (2n), A. gueldenstaedtii and A. baerii had ~245 chromosomes representing recent tetraploidy (4n), and A. baerii male with abnormal ploidy level had ~ 368 chromosomes, indicating recent hexaploidy (6n). Genealogy assessed from the mtDNA control region did not reveal genome markers of other sturgeon species and this individual was supposed to originate from spontaneous 1.5 fold increment in number of chromosome sets with respect to the number most frequently found in nature for this species. Following hormone stimulation, the spontaneous hexaploid male produced normal sperm with ability for fertilization. Fertilization of A. baerii and A. gueldenstaedtii ova from normal 4n level females with sperm of the hexaploid male produced viable, non-malformed pentaploid (5n) progeny with a ploidy level intermediate to those of the parents.


This study firstly described occurrence of hexaploid individual of A. baerii and confirmed its autopolyploid origin. In addition to that, the first detailed evidence about fertility of spontaneous hexaploid sturgeon was provided. If 1.5 fold increment in number of chromosome sets occurring in diploids, resulted triploids possess odd number of chromosome sets causing their sterility or subfertility due to interference of gametogenesis. In contrast, 1.5 fold increment in number of chromosome sets in naturally tetraploid A. baerii resulted in even number of chromosome sets and therefore in fertility of the hexaploid specimen under study.

Acipenseridae; Polyploidy determination; Sperm quality; Autopolyploidization; Triploidization