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|Reproduction in northern krill (Meganyctiphanes norvegica Sars)|In: Advances in Marine Biology. Academic Press: London,New York,. ISSN 0065-2881, more
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This review presents the current state of knowledge with regard to the reproductive biology of Northern krill (Meganyctiphanes norvegica). Reproduction is limited to a distinct period of the year. First development of the ovary occurs at the onset of the season, when the stock of primary oocytes issued from the germinal zone starts to accumulate glycoproteic yolk. Previtellogenesis continues throughout the entire reproductive season, but oosorption (the retrieval by the ovary of the yolk constituents from the growing oocytes) may occur in unfavourable conditions and represents an important metabolic process for sustaining females during such periods. Oosorption also occurs at the onset of the resting season.
It has been established that individual females may perform several cycles of reproduction each year. Each reproductive cycle spans two moult cycles, one in which lipid yolk is accumulated (vitellogenesis) and another when spawning occurs. The time of spawning does not coincide with the moult (ecdysis), but with the onset of moult preparation (C-D0 moult stages). The complete egg-batch is spawned well before the moult.
Storage lipids are accumulated preferentially in the ovary with distinctly high levels of ?-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the polar lipid fraction as well as phosphatidylcholine, a key component in the development of the embryo. There is no difference concerning lipid storage between resting females, males and juvenile krill.
Beside the ovary, the fat body is an important organ involved in the metabolism and storage of the glycoproteins and lipids that will be transformed into the lipoglycoproteins of the yolk platelets in the ovary.
M. norvegica produce large egg batches with the number of mature oocytes in one batch being proportional to the size of the female, with a mean number of 1000–1200 eggs per batch. The number of reproductive cycles per year is a function of the trophic conditions, with the first reproductive cycle being triggered by the first phytoplankton bloom.
Other reproductive features reflect specific adaptations of krill to a pelagic life, like swarming and vertical migration behaviour. M. norvegica segregate at night for moulting and mating or spawning, while swimming constantly during their diel vertical migration (DVM).
Key questions concerning krill reproduction remain, particularly in identifying the cues that switch krill in and out reproductive development, or between egg-building and oosorption. New molecular tools are now available to tackle such questions.