Development of an identification method for and a genetic assessment of Danube River (and Black Sea) sturgeon stocks as a prerequisite for sustainable fisheries and conservation management

Photo: M. Prosch (Getty Images)

Despite numerous measures taken at national and international levels, the status of Danube sturgeon populations has worsened dramatically, urging their protection at basin level to prevent extinction. In this context, the identification of functional population segments (management entities) is considered of highest priority for sustainable fisheries and conservation management. Thus, the present project aims to develop and apply new genetic markers (microsatellite loci and mitochondrial DNA) to determine the stock structure and to verify and distinguish between long and medium distance migrants of the spring and fall races of the four sturgeon species Acipenser gueldenstaedtii, A. ruthenus, A. stellatus and Huso huso in the Romanian part of the Danube. The same methods will be used in Turkey to discriminate the fish that are endemic in rivers Yesilırmak, Kizilırmak, Çoruh and Sakarya from fish that are utilizing Turkish coastal waters as foraging grounds solely but originate from Western and Northern Black Sea tributaries including the Danube River. Data on the stock structure and genetic differentiation between them will finally be used to define management entities and to provide recommendations for fisheries as well as conservation management including captive breeding schemes that maximize genetic variability of stocks while maintaining their genetic integrity.

The project consists of eight work packages (WP)

WP1: Sample collection in Romania and Turkey
Partner: DDNI and CFRI, IUFF

WP2: Isolation of species-specific microsatellite loci
Partner: IGB (subcontracting a commercial service: GenoScreen, France, www.genoscreen.com)

WP3: Developing panels of 12-15 microsatellite loci per species for routine genotyping
Partner: IGB

WP4: Microsatellite genotyping of Romanian sturgeon samples
Partner: IGB and DDNI

WP5: Microsatellite genotyping of Turkish sturgeon samples
Partner: CFRI and IGB

WP6: Developing species-specific primers for sequencing the target mtDNA regions
Partner: DDNI

WP7: Mitochondrial DNA sequencing of Romanian and Turkish sturgeon samples
Partner: DDNI and CFRI

WP8: Population genetic analyses of data; identification of management units
All partners

Short Profile


(Dept. 4) Fish Biology, Fisheries and Aquaculture
Coordinator and Project Leader
Technical Assistant
Funded by

This project is conducted within the ERA-Net COFASP (Cooperation in Fisheries, Aquaculture and Seafood Processing). The German partner (IGB) is financially supported by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) through the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE), grant number 2814ERA01G. The Romanian partner (DDNI) is financially supported by the Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation Funding (UEFISCDI). The Turkish partners (CFRI und IUFF) are financially supported by the Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock.


Romania: DDNI Danube Delta National Institute:
Turkey: CFRI Central Fisheries Research Institute:
Turkey: IUFF Istanbul University, Faculty of Fisheries:


Contact person

Jörn Gessner

Research Group Leader
Research group
Reintroduction of the European Sturgeon to Germany

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