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Growth, sex differentiation and gonad and plasma levels of sex steroids in male‐ and female‐dominant populations of Dicentrarchus labrax obtained through repeated size grading

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Starting from 66 days post hatching (dph), European sea bass Dicentrarchus labrax were graded successively to create a fast growing (L‐extreme) and a slow growing (S‐extreme) population. The L‐extreme population grew significantly larger (ANOVA, n = 89–101, P < 0·01) attaining twice the wet mass of the S‐extreme population at 300 dph (130·9 ± 1·8 v. 66·7 ± 0·9 g, mean ± s.e.). When the two populations were sexed, the L‐extreme consisted of 96·5% and the S‐extreme of 30·2% females, while the ungraded control had 59·2% females. Sex differentiation began first in females at a total length (LT) of 97 ± 4 mm and wet mass of 9·4 ± 1·2 g (150 dph), and was completed when fish reached 166 ± 6 mm and 53·4 ± 6·4 g (250 dph) in both sexes. Precocious maturation in males was positively correlated to growth. Gonad oestradiol (E2) was significantly higher in the female‐dominant population at the onset of ovarian differentiation (ANOVA, n = 10, P < 0·05) and in the plasma after the appearance of the first primary oocytes (P < 0·01). Gonad testosterone (T) increased in both populations after sex differentiation (ANOVA, n = 10, P < 0·05), while plasma levels were significantly higher in the male‐dominant population (P < 0·001). Both gonad and plasma 11‐keto testosterone (11‐KT) were significantly higher in the male‐dominant population (ANOVA, n = 10, P < 0·01) reaching maximal values at spermiation. The results suggest that E2 is closely related with ovarian differentiation and the onset of oogenesis, while T and 11‐KT is more related to spermatogenesis and precocious maturation.

Keywords: aquaculture; precocious; sea bass; sex differentiation

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Institute of Marine Sciences (CSIC), Passeig Marítim, 37-49, 08003 Barcelona, Spain and 2: Institute of Aquaculture of Torre La Sal (CSIC), Ribera de Cabanes, Castellón, Spain 3: Hellenic Center for Marine Research, Institute of Aquaculture, P. O. Box 2214, Iraklion, Crete 71003, Greece,

Publication date: 2005-04-01

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