Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Uncovering Sex-Change Secrets Of The Black Sea Bass

12.04.2006


In a former cowshed on the edge of the University of New Hampshire campus, David Berlinsky, assistant professor of zoology, peers into a big blue plastic tub. Inside, black sea bass circle slowly in the dim light. The converted barn is now an aquaculture research facility for the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, and home to Berlinsky’s latest research.



Black sea bass feature prominently on many menus, but wild populations of the fish are in decline and their availability is limited. Because of the high demand, they’re a good candidate for aquaculture on the east coast. Except, that is, for one problem: they have a tendency to change sex unpredictably in captivity.

“In the wild, black sea bass are born as females and turn into males at around two to five years old,” Berlinsky explains. “When you bring them into captivity, they change into males more quickly.” Some captive-born fish emerge as males even before reaching adulthood, devoting energy toward reproductive development and away from growth. Such problems make breeding and growing the fish in captivity a tricky proposition.


“Black sea bass is a wonderful fish to culture and to eat,” says George Nardi, vice president and director of GreatBay Aquaculture, a commercial fish farm in Newington, NH. But the sex change problem must be tackled if fish farmers are to bring a high-quality fish to market. “We invest in our brood stocks, the parents of the young fish, much as a thoroughbred horse farm invests in mares and stallions,” he says. “It doesn’t do us much good if we always have to go out and get new females.”

With funding from NH Sea Grant, Berlinsky has teamed with Nardi and GreatBay Aquaculture to study what triggers sex reversal in black sea bass – and how to prevent it. Berlinsky and his colleagues have discovered that fish are more likely to become males if raised at constant temperatures. But temperature is hardly the only factor involved. Sex ratios and density also come into play. Berlinsky’s team found that females were more likely to change sex when no males were present in the tank. Additionally, the fish were more likely to turn into males when kept in crowded tanks.

Berlinsky is continuing his experiments to clarify the role that water temperature plays and to further understand what factors determine the initial sex of captive-born fish. He’s also collaborating with Canadian researchers to study the underlying biochemical mechanisms that cause the fish to change sex. In female fish, estrogen plays the major role, he said. In males, a steroid hormone called 11-ketotestosterone is involved. The scientists are now studying those hormones as well as the enzymes that control them.

By turning off estrogen production, Berlinsky says, he can turn a female fish into a male within a week. Giving 11-ketotestosterone to a female converts it into a male. “We’re studying the ways to control the enzymes that control sex reversal,” he explains. “We’re coming at the problem both behaviorally and biochemically.”

Though he still has details to sort out, Berlinsky believes he has already made important steps. “We have already made progress, determining optimal sex ratios and delaying sex reversal by controlling density,” he notes. “We’ve already made strides toward making black sea bass aquaculture possible.”

Kirsten Weir | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unh.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientist invents way to trigger artificial photosynthesis to clean air

26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ammonium nitrogen input increases the synthesis of anticarcinogenic compounds in broccoli

26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history

26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>