Timecourse of oocyte development in saithe Pollachius virens
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of Fish Biology. 2017, 90 (1), 109-128. 10.1111/jfb.13161
Wild caught North Sea saithe Pollachius virens were monitored for growth, sex steroid profiles and oocyte development pre-spawning and measured for egg size and group fecundity during the spawning season in the laboratory. Vitellogenesis commenced in late October–early November, at a leading cohort size (CL) of c. 250 µm, after which oocytes grew rapidly in size until spawning started in February. Notably, a distinct cortical alveoli stage was virtually absent with yolk granules observed in developing oocytes at the very beginning of vitellogenesis. Little atresia was observed pre-spawning, but atretic re-absorption of remnant oocytes containing yolk granules was found in all females immediately post-spawning. As expected, concentrations of sex steroids, oestradiol-17β (females), testosterone (both sexes) and 11-ketotestosterone (both sexes), increased pre-spawning before dropping post-spawning. The present experiment provides the first validation of sex steroid levels in P. virens. Post-ovulatory follicles were visible in histological sections from female gonads 9–11 months post-spawning, but then disappeared. Spawning commenced around a CL of c. 750 µm (700–800 µm). Hydrated oocytes (eggs) measured between 1·04 and 1·31 mm (mean = 1·18 mm) with decreasing sizes towards the end of spawning. The average estimated realized fecundity was c. 0·84 million eggs (median female total length, LT = 60 cm). Spawning lasted from 13 February to 29 March.