Author(s): Dziewulska K
The commonly applied classification systems of fish gonad maturity divide the maturation process into certain stages. However, the scales do not entirely reflect the continuity of the maturation process. Based on light microscope observations, the paper describes a comprehensive pattern of testicular transformations during maturation. The study was carried out on precocious underyearling and 1-year-old males of sea trout (Salmo trutta m. trutta L.), 1-year-old males of salmon (Salmo salar L.), and males of brown trout (Salmo trutta m. fario L.) aged from 7 months to 4 years. A total of 821 gonads collected during all seasons of the year were examined. The fish were fixed in Bouin's fluid. Histological slides of the mid-part of the gonad were made using the standard paraffin technique. The 3-6 microm sections were stained with Heidenhain haematoxylin. Histological changes of testes during maturation were similar in the three species studied. Immature and resting gonads contained type A spermatogonia in lobules only. The appearance of cystic structures containing type B spermatogonia in the lobules signalled the beginning of the sexual cycle in male gonads. Type B spermatogonia underwent synchronous mitotic divisions resulting in an increase in the total number of spermatogonia. As the spermatogenesis continued, the gonads showed a gradual increase in the number of cysts containing cells at all the spermatogenetic stages: type B spermatogonia, primary and secondary spermatocytes, spermatids, and spermatozoa. The well-formed spermatozoa were released to the lobule lumen once the Sertoli cells and spermatozoa connections broke up and the cyst disappeared. This was a continuous process observed throughout the spawning season. The spermatozoa were moved to the efferent duct. While some of the germ cells were completing spermatogenesis, the lobules contained less and less cysts with type B spermatogonia, primary and secondary spermatocytes, and spermatids; eventually all the cells completed spermatogenesis. At the end of maturation, vacuoles, up to 18.9 microm in final diameter (brown trout), appeared in the Sertoli cells. The vacuoles were visible in the lobule wall epithelium for a prolonged period of time. In most salmonid individuals examined, the reproductive cycles were observed to overlap. In some fish, the preparation for another cycle began very early, i.e., at the and of preceding spermatogenesis, which had not been observed before. Gonad maturation in some males was incomplete.