The new species of barbel discovered by the Department of Hydrobiology Research at the University of Debrecen’s Faculty of Science has been named Barbus biharicus, i.e. the Bihar barbel.
Millions of years ago there was another species among the four barbel species, and the fourth member was identified following years of research led by Assistant Professor László Antal
at the Department of Hydrobiology Research at the University of Debrecen’s Faculty of Science and Technology.
- In 2002, Czech-Greek-French research work was published, which found that in addition to the Petényi Barbel (Barbus Petényi) described in 1852, the northern part of the Carpathian basin was also home to a separate species, the Carpathian Barbel (Barbus carpathicus), while in the southern area the Balkan Barbel (Barbus balcanicus) can be found. The separate development of the species was caused by the closing up of the inner Transylvanian hills and the Carpathians, since this resulted in the isolation of the populations from each other. Our research began in 2010 with the aim of establishing which barbel species live in which river - explained László Antal.
In 2013 experts concluded that in the Ipoly, Sajó and the Upper Tisza regions the Carpathian barbel is the native species, while in the Sebes-Körös water system a species of fish was found that is genetically different from the three species previously described.
- In the second phase, in 2014, we sequenced another gene, and this study also brought the same result as the previous one, so we contacted the Czech leader of the 2002 research and then carried out a third gene sequencing in order to provide an even more robust basis for our results. The results showed that there is indeed a new species, which is named after its habitat, i.e. the Barbus biharicus, - said the assistant professor. It is interesting that the research group also included László Antal's wife, who also works at the University of Debrecen; she carried out the molecular biological examination.
The expert added that in the lower taxonomic categories, such as bacteria, new species are described on a daily basis, but with vertebrates a new species is a rarity. In Hungary there are no other living researchers who have discovered a new species of fish.
A study by researchers of the University of Debrecen in December appeared last year in the online version
of the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, and in March was published in the print issue as well.
The discovery of the Bihar barbel is unique because it is very rare that researchers can identify new species of vertebrates - said the University of Debrecen researcher. In an interview with unideb.hu László Antal, assistant professor, also revealed that the discovery was a real family success, because his wife was a member of the research team, and she performed the molecular biology tests. Despite this, they never considered naming the new species of barbel after themselves.