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Social factors and aromatase gene expression during adult male-to-female sex change in captive leopard grouper Mycteroperca rosacea.

Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2018 Jan 18;:

Authors: Romo-Mendoza D, Campos-Ramos R, Vázquez-Islas G, Burgos-Aceves MA, Esquivel-Gutiérrez ER, Guerrero-Tortolero DA

Abstract
Social factors and aromatase gene expression in the leopard grouper Mycteroperca rosacea was studied when captive fish were separated by sex during the reproductive (April-June) and post-reproductive (July-September) seasons. Monosex females, monosex males, and mixed-sex, held in social sextet units were analyzed for sex steroids throughout confinement. At the end of the experiment, the gonad-sex was defined by histology, and gonad and brain aromatase gene expressions were quantified. Only males held in the monosex social units changed sex. Histology showed one male remained unchanged, six were found in a transitional sexual stage, in which two had intersex-predominantly-testes, and four had a more defined intersex ovo-testes pattern, and 11 were immature de novo females (neofemales). Neofemales and most intersex fish did not survive. In spring, 11-ketosterone showed a specific male profile, which suggests that male-to-female sex change was not triggered during the reproductive season. The low steroid levels in summer made it impossible to associate the sex change to a gonad hormonal shift; in September, gonad aromatase gene expression was not significantly different among groups. However, brain aromatase expression in intersex fish was significantly higher than monosex females, mixed-sex females, and neofemale groups. These results suggest that in the absence of female hormonal compounds, and at a time when male gonad steroidogenesis was diminished, the brain mediated male-to-male social-behavioral interactions, including stress, by increasing aromatization, resulting in derived intersex-male, which triggered more aromatization, followed by a sex change.

PMID: 29357278 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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