Paternal mouthbrooding in the black-chinned tilapia, Sarotherodon melanotheron (Pisces: Cichlidae): Changes in gonadal steroids and potential for vitellogenin transfer to larvae

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The black-chinned tilapia (Sarotherodon melanotheron) is a paternal mouthbrooder. Pairs of adult black-chinned tilapia were raised in freshwater and the males were sampled during the mouthbrooding cycle. Sampling also occurred 10 days after release of the free-swimming fry for comparison. During the first week of incubation of the eggs, total androgens and estradiol were low (< 5 and < 0.3 ng/ml, respectively). During the second week of brooding, when the eggs have hatched and they are called newly hatched embryos, plasma levels of gonadal steroids increased (13-38 ng androgen/ml and > 0.6 ng estradiol/ml). The plasma concentrations of vitellogenin (VTG) in male parents changed during mouthbrooding, with decreases occurring between egg pickup and hatching of the embryo (Day 6 of mouthbrooding). The pattern of change in concentrations of VTG in surface mucus of male parents differed from the pattern in plasma, with peak concentrations occurring at the time of hatching. The amount of VTG in mucus was similar to that measured in the female Oreochromis mossambicus during mouthbrooding of embryos. The appearance of peak VTG levels in the mucus at the time of hatching when plasma levels have declined and the availability of comparable amounts of mucus VTG in both maternal and paternal mouthbrooding tilapia, despite unequivalent plasma levels, support the possibility that parental provisioning of the young occurs during mouthbrooding in tilapia. (C) 2000 Academic Press.

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Hormones and Behavior