Some Questions Concerning the Syngnathidae Brood Pouch
For more than a century the physiological role of the Syngnathidae brood pouch has been the subject of scientific interest and debate. Some of the earliest investigators purported that the highly vascular brood pouch was physiologically adapted for the reception of fertilized eggs and for the sustenance of the embryos (i.e., a "pseudo-placenta"). Others posited that the brood pouch served as an osmoregulatory organ for the developing embryos. To determine whether the primary physiological role of the brood pouch is one of nutrition or osmoregulation, Syngnathus scovelli embryos were removed from the brood pouch at different developmental stages (4.0–13.0 mm TL), placed in sterilized, aerated, artificial seawater hyperor iso-osmotic to the blood and pouch fluid, to which no nutritive substances were added. In hyperosmotic media 25.7% of the in vitro embryos completed their normal gestation versus 18.7% in iso-osmotic media. These results appear to indicate that the male Syngnathidae brood pouch serves neither as the primary nutritional source nor as an osmotic buffer for the developing embryos after a length of 4.0 mm TL is achieved.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1991-11-01
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