Permanent germinal epithelium and reproductive cycle of Atractosteus tropicus (Lepisosteiformes: Lepisosteidae) males, Tabasco, Mexico
The tropical gar A. tropicus plays an important ecological role as it regulates other fish stocks in different water bodies in Southeastern México. Nevertheless, wild populations are declining, and one conservation alternative is the aquaculture production and basic knowledge of reproductive biology; for males, this requires the study of germ and somatic structures of testes, to characterize the reproductive cycle, and to provide basic knowledge for exploitation and conservation models and strategies. With this aim, a total of 24 males with an average Lp = 47.2 cm were collected from wild populations from the Laguna Pomposú, municipality of Jalpa de Mendez (18°19' - 93°01'12" W), Tabasco, Mexico. Fish were collected with a trawl net and were transported live to the Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory, División Académica de Ciencias Biológicas (DACBiol), Universidad Juárez Autónoma de Tabasco (UJAT). Males were slaughtered by prolonged immersion in MS222. Testes samples were collected from each specimen and were processed using the standard histological procedures, that consisted of dehydration in an ascending ethanol series, xylol, embedding in paraffin, sectioning at 7 µm, and staining with hematoxylin-eosin (HE). The diameter of 20 seminiferous tubules (Tse), height of germinal epithelium (Egl), gonadosomatic index (IGS) and gonad volume (gV) were determined monthly. Based on morphometric and morpho-physiological characteristics, the testes consisted of a network of anastomosed tubules with non-restricted cystic spermatogenesis, and a permanent germinal epithelium. This is the first report of a permanent germinal epithelium in A. tropicus. Five reproductive classes were histologically identified: Class I Regressed; Class II Early Maturation; Class III Mid Maturation; Class IV Late Maturation; Class V Regression. Monthly GSI, gV and Tse values were lower in January and February, the testis showed spermatozoa remains and a regenerating discontinuous germinal epithelium. In March spermiogenesis increased and proliferation of spermatogonia decreased. Male tropical gar followed a seasonal reproductive cycle, indicated by the monthly variation of the reproductive classes and the reproductive season processes observed, and for which temperature and rainfall seem to stimulate reproductive activity and spermiation.