Seasonal changes in the distribution of gonadal lipids and spermatogenetic tissue in the male phase of Monopterus albus (Pisces: Teleostei)



The gonad of Monopterus albus undergoes cyclical changes after the reversal of sex from female to male. The seasonally variable events include a prenuptial accumulation of cholesterol-positive lipid droplets in the cytoplasm of the interstitial cells when spermatogenetic activity is resumed in late February and early March. The development of the interstitial Leydig cells reaches a maximum in May just before spawning. There occurs a sudden depletion of the interstitial lipids during the breeding season in June at a time when the male animals exhibit active nuptial behaviour. After spermiation, the old interstitial cells degenerate, and during the succeeding phase of gonadal inactivity, become replaced by a new generation from connective tissue cells in the interstitium of the gonadal lamellae which gradually accumulate lipoidal material.

The lobular cycle comprises a postnuptial accumulation of amorphous intralobular lipids which become completely cleared in February when active spermatogenesis is restored. Spermatogenesis resumes shortly after spawning, but only advances as far as primary spermatocytes during the postnuptial period of inactivity.

The authors conclude that, as far as the seasonal variations in gonadal lipid distribution is concerned, the cycles in the gonad of the hermaphroditic teleost, M. albus, conform to the same pattern as those of the gonochoristic seasonal breeders studied.