Scientia Marina, Vol 75, No 1 (2011)

Oogenesis and spawn formation in the invasive lionfish, Pterois miles and Pterois volitans

James A. Morris, Jr
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science , United States

Craig V. Sullivan
Department of Biology, North Carolina State University , United States

John J. Govoni
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science , United States


The Indo-Pacific lionfish, Pterois miles and P. volitans, have recently invaded the U.S. east coast and the Caribbean and pose a significant threat to native reef fish communities. Few studies have documented reproduction in pteroines from the Indo-Pacific. This study provides a description of oogenesis and spawn formation in P. miles and P. volitans collected from offshore waters of North Carolina, U.S.A and the Bahamas. Using histological and laboratory observations, we found no differences in reproductive biology between P. miles and P. volitans. These lionfish spawn buoyant eggs that are encased in a hollow mass of mucus produced by specialized secretory cells of the ovarian wall complex. Oocytes develop on highly vascularized peduncles with all oocyte stages present in the ovary of spawning females and the most mature oocytes placed terminally, near the ovarian lumen. Given these ovarian characteristics, these lionfish are asynchronous, indeterminate batch spawners and are thus capable of sustained reproduction throughout the year when conditions are suitable. This mode of reproduction could have contributed to the recent and rapid establishment of these lionfish in the northwestern Atlantic and Caribbean.


lionfish; Pterois; oogenesis; ovarian peduncle; oocyte; invasions

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