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Incidence of male intersex in adult Pacific lamprey (Entosphenus tridentatus), with a brief discussion of intersex vs. hermaphroditism in lampreys (Petromyzontiformes)

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We report the incidence of male intersex in adult Pacific lamprey (Entosphenus tridentatus (Richardson, 1836)) during their pre-spawning migration in fresh water. Although “hermaphrodites” have been suggested in other adult lampreys, this is the first detailed description and discussion of this phenomenon. A total of 0.5% of our adult Pacific lamprey from Willamette Falls (2 out of 427 adults) were intersex, with oocytes in the testes. This phenomenon was identifiable only by histological examination. The testes of the intersex males were immature, in the beginning stages of meiosis. One intersex male possessed primary growth or perinucleolar stage oocytes loosely interspersed throughout the testes, and the other possessed at least 6 mid-vitellogenic oocytes (0.6 mm, mean long diameter) separate from the testes. Because premetamorphic lamprey can possess both female and male gonial cells, we hypothesize that intersex is a remnant larval trait and that these fish failed to fully develop into males during metamorphosis.

Keywords: cyclostomes; gonochoriste; gonochoristic; intersex; intersexualité; maturation; poisson primitif; primitive fish; reproduction

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Center for Molecular and Comparative Endocrinology, Department of Molecular, Cellular and Biomedical Sciences, University of New Hampshire, 316 Rudman Hall, 46 College Road, Durham, NH 03824, USA. 2: Natural Resources Department, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, P.O. Box 549 Siletz, OR 97380, USA. 3: US Geological Survey, Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, 104 Nash Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.

Publication date: September 17, 2012

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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