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Can photoperiod manipulation affect gonad development of a boreo-arctic echinoid (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis) following exposure in the wild after the autumnal equinox?
Dumont, C.; Pearce, C.M.; Stazicker, C.; An, Y.X.; Keddy, L. (2006). Can photoperiod manipulation affect gonad development of a boreo-arctic echinoid (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis) following exposure in the wild after the autumnal equinox? Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 149(2): 365-378.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Dumont, C.
  • Pearce, C.M.
  • Stazicker, C.
  • An, Y.X.
  • Keddy, L.

    A laboratory experiment was conducted in the winter of 2003–2004 to assess the effect of varying photoperiod regime on consumption rate, assimilation rate, absorption efficiency, and gonad development of the green sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis. Adult individuals were collected from the wild after they had been exposed to the ambient autumn photoperiod cue (which is the extraneous trigger thought to elicit gametogenesis in this species) and placed at ambient temperature for 12 weeks under five different photoperiod regimes: (1) 24 h light:0 h dark=“0D”, (2) 16 h light:8 h dark=“8D”, (3) 8 h light:16 h dark=“16D”, (4) 0 h light:24 h dark=“24D”, and (5) ambient photoperiod (range: 10.50–15.25 h dark). Urchins in these five treatments were fed ad libitum with bull kelp, Nereocystis luetkeana. A sixth treatment consisted of starved individuals held under 0D conditions. Various gonad factors including gonad index, percent gonad water, gonad colour (CIE lightness or L*, CIE hue or a*, and CIE chroma or b*), percent area occupation of the gonad by various cell types (nutritive phagocytes, spermatozoa, and secondary oocytes/ova), and stage of development were assessed at the beginning of the experiment and at weeks 4, 8, and 12 of the study. Consumption and assimilation rates were assessed at weeks 4 and 12 and absorption efficiency at week 12 of the experiment. Urchins were predominantly in the growing and premature stages at the beginning of the experiment, but by week 4 at least 20% of individuals in all treatments receiving food were classified as mature. Spawning occurred during all these treatments between weeks 4 and 8, as evidenced by significant decreases in spermatozoa and secondary oocytes/ova and a significant decrease in percent gonad water, but was not accompanied by major declines in gonad indices. Greater than 90% of individuals in all five of the fed treatments were in the recovering and growing stages at the end of the experiment. The 16D treatment had by far the greatest percentage of urchins in the growing stage. In contrast, individuals that were starved were predominantly in the mature stage at weeks 4, 8, and 12, with only ~30% reaching the spawning stage by the end of the experiment. Photoperiod significantly affected gonad indices at the termination of the experiment with gonad index being the highest in the 16D treatment; this was significantly greater than in the 8D and ambient treatments. Photoperiod did not significantly affect gonad percent water, gonad lightness, or gonad hue. Gonad chroma was significantly affected by photoperiod, urchins held under ambient conditions having significantly lower b* readings than individuals in any other treatment. Photoperiod had little or no affect on consumption rate, assimilation rate, or absorption efficiency. Thus, differences among treatments in regards to gonad index, gonad chroma, and stage of development cannot be attributed to variations in feeding, absorption, or assimilation. The results of this experiment indicate that once gametogenesis is initiated, photoperiod manipulation cannot prevent ultimate spawning. However, photoperiod regime can affect the rate at which urchins move through the various stages of the gametogenic cycle. Urchins placed on short days under artificial lighting (16D) moved through the spawning stage into recovering and growing stages the fastest. This photoperiod regime also produced the highest gonad index at the end of the experiment. Since the commercial urchin market prefers large gonads in the growing and premature stages (i.e. before the mature stage is reached and gonads start leaking sperm and eggs), short day-lengths under artificial lighting (16D) appear to be the best photoperiod conditions for optimizing marketability.

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