Influence of the Pseudophyllidean cestode Schistocephalus solidus on Oocyte Development in the Threespine Stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus

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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


The objective of this study was to investigate the means by which Schistocephalus solidus might reduce annual fecundity in female threespine stickleback fish (Gasterosteus aculeatus) through processes of oocyte development. Histological examinations of specimens from one lake in Alaska in 2000 and 2001 were used to analyse the effects of S. solidus on recruitment of primary growth oocytes into vitellogenesis, atresia of vitellogenic oocytes, and the interspawning interval. The ratio of primary growth to late secondary growth (late vitellogenic) oocytes was significantly greater (P<0.01) among infected fish than uninfected ones in early-season samples from 2000 and 2001, revealing a decrease in recruitment of oocytes from primary growth into vitellogenic oocytes among infected females. The difference was marginally non-significant (P=0.087) in a mid-season sample from 2001 due to reductions in the entire pool of vitellogenic (early and late secondary growth) oocytes recruited prior to the spawning season in this determinate-fecundity species. Atresia among all vitellogenic oocytes was low and did not differ between infected and uninfected females. Histological estimations of the interspawning interval using post-ovulatory follicles showed no significant differences between infected and uninfected fish, suggesting that the number of spawnings in stickleback females each spawning season is unaffected by S. solidus infection. Thus, annual fecundity appears to be reduced only through recruitment of oocytes into vitellogenesis.

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