New paper on salmon sexual maturation published in Aquaculture

We just published a new paper in Aquaculture from Elsevier, entitled “Sexual maturation in Atlantic salmon male parr may be triggered both in late summer and early spring under standard farming conditions”. This is the last paper from Elia Ciani’s PhD.

It shows that 1-Time of puberty was investigated in farmed Atlantic salmon male parr, 2- Some males mature in autumn (under-yearling), others in spring (one-year old), 3- Mild symptoms of feminization (ovotestis) were detected in a subset of male parr, and 4- First study to compare under-yearlings vs one-year old maturing male parr.

Abstract: Male Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) display different sexual strategies, maturing either as parr during the freshwater phase (as sneaky spawners), or as post smolts following one or several years at sea. First sexual maturation (puberty) occurs at different times depending on environmental and genetic factors. To improve our knowledge on the timing (age and season) of first sexual maturation in Atlantic salmon male parr, we investigated pubertal activation in second generation farmed salmon from the Norwegian river Figgjo, reared under natural conditions of photoperiod and water temperature. Histological analysis, in combination with morphometric measurements, plasma androgen levels and pituitary gonadotropin gene expression analysis revealed that, as previously reported, some male parr initiated early sexual maturation in spring at one year of age. Interestingly, some male parr were observed to initiate sexual maturation already in autumn, six months after hatching (under-yearlings), much earlier than reported in previous studies. One-year old maturing males showed a low induction in gonadotropin levels, while under-yearling maturing males displayed a significant increase in fshb transcripts as compared to immature/early-maturing fish. Plasma testosterone, detectable also in immature/early-maturing males, increased constantly during testes development, while 11-ketotestosterone, undetectable in immature/early-maturing and early maturing males, increased during more advanced stages of maturation. A mild feminization of the testes (ovotestes) was detected in a subset of samples. This study brings new knowledge on the little investigated field of sexually maturing under-yearlings in Atlantic salmon. This is also the first study comparing the physiology of under-yearling vs one-year old maturing male parr, thus bringing new insights to the remarkable plasticity of Atlantic salmon puberty.

This paper has been published in open access and can be seen https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquaculture.2021.737086

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