Annual Changes in Germinal Epithelium Determine Male Reproductive Classes of the Cobia

Document Type


Publication Date



Marine Science


Five reproductive classes of cobia Rachycentron canadum, caught along the Gulf of Mexico and the south-east Atlantic coast of the U.S.A., are described during the annual reproductive cycle. These are based upon changes in the testicular germinal epithelium and the stages of germ cells that are present: early maturation, mid maturation, late maturation, regression and regressed. During early maturation, the germinal epithelium is continuous from the testicular ducts to the periphery of the testis and active spermatogenesis occurs throughout the testis. In mid maturation, the germinal epithelium near the ducts becomes discontinuous, but it remains continuous distally. In late maturation, a discontinuous germinal epithelium extends all along the lobules to the testicular periphery; lobules are swollen with sperm and there is minimal spermatogenesis. The regression class is characterized by a discontinuous epithelium throughout the testis, sperm storage and widely scattered spermatocysts. Spermatogonial proliferation also occurs along the lobule walls and at the periphery of the testis. In regressed testes, spermatogonia exist only in a continuous or discontinuous germinal epithelium, although residual sperm are nearly always present in the lobules and ducts. The presence or absence of sperm is not an accurate indicator of reproductive classes. At the periphery of the testis in the regression and regressed classes, the distal portions of lobules elongate as cords of cells containing spermatogonia and Sertoli cells. All reproductive classes can be identified in paraffin sections, although plastic sections provide better resolution. Using maturation classes defined by changes in the germinal epithelium to describe testicular development and spermatogenesis gives a more accurate picture than does using the traditional terminology. (C) 2002 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles.

Publication Title

Journal of Fish Biology





First Page


Last Page


Find in your library