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The effect of whole body lipid on early sexual maturation of 1+ age male chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)
Shearer, K.D.; Swanson, P. (2000). The effect of whole body lipid on early sexual maturation of 1+ age male chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Aquaculture 190: 343-367
In: Aquaculture. Elsevier: Amsterdam; London; New York; Oxford; Tokyo. ISSN 0044-8486, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Shearer, K.D.
  • Swanson, P.

    Early sexual maturation of male chinook salmon (maturation 1 to 4 years prior to females in the same age class) results in reduced effectiveness of stock enhancement programs and a financial loss to the salmon farming industry. Previous studies in Atlantic salmon have shown that the age of maturity in males is affected by growth and/or body energy stores, but the relative roles of these two factors are not well understood. Therefore, an experiment was designed to determine when spermatogenesis was initiated, to characterize the endocrine changes during the onset of puberty in male salmon, and to determine if the level of whole-body lipid affects the incidence of early male maturation in a wild stock (Yakima River) of 1+ spring chinook salmon. Fry were fed a commercial diet from February until August and were then divided into groups of 320 fish (mean weight, 5.6 g) and fed one of five experimental diets (two replicate groups/diet) containing 4%, 9%, 14%, 18% or 22% lipid and 82%, 77%, 73%, 69%, or 65% protein for 13 months. Fish were reared on natural photoperiod and ambient temperature (6°C to 16°C), and pair-fed to a level based on the tank with the lowest feed consumption. Fish were weighed monthly and sampled to determine body composition, pituitary follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels, plasma insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) levels, and stage of gonadal development. Throughout the experimental period the mean fish weight was similar among treatment groups. However, from December through the end of the experiment in the following September, maturing males were significantly larger than nonmaturing fish. Initial lipid levels in 0-age experimental fish were near 6%, which is similar to wild fish of the same stock and age captured in the Yakima River during August. Fish fed diets containing more than 4% lipid increased in whole-body lipid content during the first 2 months of feeding and then maintained at relatively constant levels during the course of the experiment. Whole-body lipid levels for the dietary treatment groups averaged 5.6%, 7.1%, 8.2%, 9.4%, and 9.6% from October through the following September. Based on histological examination of the testes of experimental fish, type B spermatogonia and primary spermatocytes were first observed in some of the yearling males during November. These were designated maturing males. Pituitary FSH levels were significantly higher in maturing than nonmaturing males at this time and for the remainder of the study. Pituitary FSH levels increased as spermatogenesis proceeded in maturing fish, whereas pituitary LH levels increased in maturing 1+ males only during July and August, when testes were in late stages of spermatogenesis and in September during spermiation. Plasma IGF-I levels were significantly higher in maturing males than nonmaturing fish from December through the end of experiment. Since maturing males were significantly larger than nonmaturing fish of both sexes from December through September, the difference in IGF-I levels could be due to differences in growth or due to maturation. The percentage of maturing males was significantly influenced by whole-body lipid, increasing from 34% in fish fed the 4% lipid diet to 45% in fish fed the 22% lipid diet. These data suggest that whole-body lipid levels influenced the incidence of maturation of male spring chinook salmon. In addition, both endocrine and histological indicators suggest that maturation was initiated in males approximately a full year prior to the time the fish will spawn.

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