DAO 100:185-190 (2012)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02455

Histological intersex (ovotestis) in the European lobster Homarus gammarus and a commentary on its potential mechanistic basis

G. D. Stentiford*

European Union Reference Laboratory for Crustacean Diseases, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), Weymouth Laboratory, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8UB, UK

ABSTRACT: This paper provides the first report of the intersex (ovotestis) condition in the European lobster Homarus gammarus. A single specimen (10% of males sampled) presenting the condition was discovered as part of routine sampling, from the Weymouth Bay region of the English Channel, UK. The lobster presented externally as a male, but upon histological examination was seen to contain an ovotestis, containing elements of both male and female gonadal tissue. Previtellogenic oocytes were present in several otherwise normal seminiferous tubules throughout the testis. The seminiferous tubules were also engaged in the production of apparently normal sperm lineages, and mature spermatozoa were present within the tubule lumens. In some cases, oocytes were in direct contact with mature spermatozoa within the same seminiferous tubules. The significance of this finding is placed into context with a previous observation of elevated intersexuality in the congeneric species H. americanus collected from specific sites in Canadian waters. The potential mechanism for development of intersex in lobsters, which is probably related to a disrupted signalling to the germinal component of the testis from the decapod androgenic gland, may be an effect of exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals in the marine environment.


KEY WORDS: Crustacean · Decapoda · Androgenic gland · Endocrine disruption · Commercial fishery


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Cite this article as: Stentiford GD (2012) Histological intersex (ovotestis) in the European lobster Homarus gammarus and a commentary on its potential mechanistic basis. Dis Aquat Org 100:185-190. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02455

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