Navigation Links
Name of new weakly electric fish species reflects hope for peace in Central Africa

Two new species of weakly electric fishes from the Congo River basin are described in the open access journal ZooKeys. One of them, known from only a single specimen, is named "Petrocephalus boboto." "Boboto" is the word for peace in the Lingala language, the lingua franca of the Congo River, reflecting the authors' hope for peace in troubled Central Africa.

On a 2010 field trip to the Congo River of Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the riverside village of Yangambi-Lokl, French ichthyologist Sbastien Lavou of the Taiwan Institute of Oceanography and American ichthyologist John Sullivan of Cornell University, both specialists on mormyrid weakly electric fishes, captured a single individual of the genus Petrocephalus not quite like any they had seen before.

"Sbastien has the best eye of anyone in the world for Petrocephalus," says Sullivan. So when he wasn't certain what species it belonged to, we flagged it as one to look at carefully once we got home."

As they had for hundreds of other Petrocephalus specimens collected in Central Africa since the late 1990s, they placed the small, silvery fish in a small basin with water from the river and recorded its electric organ discharge (EOD) with an oscilloscope, humanely euthanized it, took its photo, procured a tissue sample for DNA analysis, tagged it and preserved it in formaldehyde.

Petrocephalus are African weakly fishes of the family Mormyridae that produce pulses of only a few hundred millivolts from an organ made of modified muscle cells in front of their tail. Receptor cells on the fishes' skin detect distortions to the electric field created by nearby objects in the water. In this way, they are able to "electrolocate" through their complex aquatic environment at night. Their short electric pulses, too weak to be sensed by touch, are also used to communicate the sender's species identity and gender to other electric fishes.

When Sullivan and other researchers collect live electric fishes in the field, they routinely make recordings of these EODs, one fish at a time, so that they can later study and compare the signals and the specimens' anatomy together. Specimens are individually tagged so that after they are preserved and placed in a museum collection, they remain linked to their EOD recordings. "With these electric fishes it is often difficult to determine where the species boundaries are, and we need all the available evidence, from morphology, DNA and their EODs to figure it out," Sullivan said. In this case, the EOD of this odd Petrocephalus was not so different from EODs of other species in this genus.

Back in his laboratory in Taipei, Lavou sequenced the gene cytochrome b from the specimen. Comparing this sequence to those from other Petrocephalus specimens and careful examination of the fish's morphology and its EOD helped him determine that it belonged to an undescribed species. "Describing a new species from a single specimen is far from ideal," Lavou said, "but in this case it seemed the best thing to do. In the places we've sampled, it's obviously very rare. Since we haven't yet found any locality where it's common, it's unlikely we'll find such a locality anytime soon."

Lavou and Sullivan named this species "Petrocephalus boboto": the word "boboto" means peace and fellowship in the Lingala language spoken along the Congo River.

"We named this hard-to-find Petrocephalus species "boboto" in the hopes that solutions for peacethough elusive like this fishcan be found in eastern D.R. Congo and the other troubled areas of Central Africa," said Sullivan.

The other new Petrocephalus species Lavou and Sullivan describe in the paper, also from the Congo River basin, is named for their colleague, Matthew Arnegard, another mormyrid researcher currently working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington.


Contact: John P. Sullivan
Pensoft Publishers

Related biology news :

1. Tiny electrical sensors could signal faster MRSA diagnosis
2. ORNL microscopy yields first proof of ferroelectricity in simplest amino acid
3. Electric charge disorder: A key to biological order?
4. CUNY Energy Institute battery system could reduce buildings electric bills
5. Berkeley Lab scientists generate electricity from viruses
6. Keeping electric vehicle batteries cool
7. Extending the range of electric vehicles
8. $3.2 million to develop battery management system for electric-car batteries
9. A new energy source: Major advance made in generating electricity from wastewater
10. MBL scientists discover nerves control iridescence in squid’s remarkable electric skin
11. Cool pavements, warm buildings, rising electricity bills
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Name of new weakly electric fish species reflects hope for peace in Central Africa
(Date:11/20/2015)... 20, 2015 NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" ... the growing mobile commerce market and creator of the ... , was recently interviewed on The RedChip Money ... this weekend on Bloomberg Europe , Bloomberg Asia, ... --> NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or the "Company"), a ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... -- Paris from 17 th ... Paris from 17 th until 19 th ... has invented the first combined scanner in the world which ... surface. Until now two different scanners were required: one for ... on the same surface. This innovation is an ideal ...
(Date:11/12/2015)...  A golden retriever that stayed healthy despite having ... provided a new lead for treating this muscle-wasting disorder, ... of MIT and Harvard and the University of São ... Cell, pinpoints a protective gene that boosts ... The Boston Children,s lab of Lou Kunkel , ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/1/2015)... Dec. 1, 2015 Today the Allen Institute ... Seattle,s South Lake Union neighborhood, the ... Mercer Street and Westlake Avenue North, the 270,000 square ... Institute for Brain Science and the Allen Institute for ... and founder of the Allen Institute. "We started by ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... Calif. , Dec. 1, 2015 ... Transformational Health program. This program addresses ways companies ... of change. ... Logo - ... aspect of healthcare, as well as the disrupting ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... Dec. 01, 2015 ... of the "2016 Europe Cell Surface ... Technologies, Competitive Strategies, Opportunities for Suppliers--France, Germany, ... offering. --> ) has ... Europe Cell Surface Markers: Country Volume and ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... ... December 01, 2015 , ... ... that its best selling system laboratory animal colony management software solution, ezColony®, is ... investing in on-site IT resources., , Many organizations are ...
Breaking Biology Technology: