Scientia Marina, Vol 75, No 2 (2011)

Incidence and significance of cystic structures in the ovaries of gadoid fish

Rosario Domínguez-Petit
Institute of Marine Research (CSIC) , Spain

Alexandre Alonso-Fernández
Institute of Marine Research (CSIC) , Spain

Fran Saborido-Rey
Institute of Marine Research (CSIC) , Spain


Fish regulate egg production by atresia. Sometimes, oocytes are encapsulated in cystic structures that might remain in the ovary for months, altering female reproductive potential in future spawning seasons. Ovaries of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua, L.) from the Flemish Cap and European hake (Merluccius merluccius, L.) from the Galician Shelf (NW Spain) were analysed from 1999 to 2006. The prevalence and abundance of ovarian cysts were estimated. Cyst prevalence increased with female size and/or age for both species, and decreased with high condition factor in hake. Cyst intensity does not correlate with any analysed factor. The size/age structure of spawning stock biomass and female condition could affect the prevalence of cysts in the ovaries, though it does not seem to affect cyst intensity in the ovary. Further research is needed to determine cyst resorption time and the impact that it has on egg production and consequently on stock reproductive potential.


European hake; Atlantic cod; cyst; ovarian follicle; condition; reproductive potential

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