Scientia Marina, Vol 76, No 2 (2012)

The annual cycle of oogenesis in the shanny, Lipophrys pholis (Pisces: Blenniidae)

Filipa Ferreira
CIMAR/CIIMAR – Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research, University of Porto , Portugal

Miguel M. Santos
CIMAR/CIIMAR – Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research, University of Porto - Departamento de Biologia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto , Portugal

Maria Armanda Reis-Henriques
CIMAR/CIIMAR – Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research, University of Porto , Portugal

Natividade M. Vieira
CIMAR/CIIMAR – Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research, University of Porto - Departamento de Biologia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto , Portugal

Nuno M. Monteiro
CIBIO, Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources - CEBIMED, Faculdade de Ciências da Saúde da Universidade Fernando Pessoa , Portugal


Lipophrys pholis has been shown to be responsive to a variety of environmental contaminants, some of them able to impair reproduction. Description of the normal cycle of oogenesis of this newly proposed sentinel species is important since this data may function as a baseline for comparison in ecotoxicological studies, among other applications. Based on histological observations, L. pholis ovarian development in adult is asynchronous, and 7 ovarian germ cells can be described (oogonia, early and late perinuclear oocytes, cortical-alveolar oocytes, early vitellogenic oocytes, vitellogenic oocytes and spawning oocytes). Using a stereological approach together with the morphologic characteristics of ovarian cells, the ovarian cycle of L. pholis was divided into 3 maturation stages: early oogenesis (May); mid-oogenesis (September), and spawning (November to January). Ovarian cell proportions and gonadosomatic index confirmed that the reproductive period of L. pholis near the southern limit of distribution of the species occurs during cold-water periods, between November and May. The collected data will help to fill some of the gaps in information that still exist on L. pholis oogenesis, thus allowing a better integration of this species as a sentinel for the detection of contaminants in European coastal waters.


Lipophrys pholis; sentinel species; intertidal; oogenesis; gonadal development

Full Text:



Agostinho A.A., Gomes L.C., Pelicice F.M. 2007. Ecologia e manejo de recursos pesqueiros em reservatórios do Brasil. EDUEM, Maringa.

Almada V.C., Barata, R.N. Gonçalves E.J., Oliveira R.F. 1990a. On the breeding season of Lipophrys pholis (Pisces: Blenniidae) at Arrábida, Portugal. J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. U.K. 70: 913-916.

Almada V.C., Oliveira R.F., Barata E. N., Gonçalves E.J., Rito A.P. 1990b. Field observations on the behaviour of the breeding males of Lipophrys pholis (Pisces: Blenniidae). Port. Zool. 1: 27-36.

Almada V.C., Gonçalves E.J., Oliveira R.F., Barata E.N. 1992. Some features of the territories in the breeding males of the intertidal blenny Lipophrys pholis (Pisces: Blenniidae). J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. U.K. 72(1): 187-197.

Arruda L.M. 1979. Specific composition and relative abundance of intertidal fish fauna at two places on the Portuguese coast (Sesimbra and Magoito, 1977-78). Arqu. Mus. Bocage, 2ª Ser 6(20): 325-342.

Bath 1976. Revision der Blenniini. Senckenb. Biol. 57(4/6): 167-234.

Carrassón M., Bau M. 2003. Reproduction and gonad histology of Aidablennius sphynx (Pisces: Blenniidae) of the Catalan Sea (Northwestern Mediterranean). Sci. Mar. 67(4): 461-469.

Colborn T., Von Saal F.S., Soto A.M. 1993. Developmental effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in wildlife and humans. Environ. Health Perspect. 101: 378-384. PMid:8080506    PMCid:1519860

Cushing D.H. 1975. Marine ecology and fisheries. Cambridge University Press, pp. 235.

Dunne J. 1977. Littoral and benthic investigations on the west coast of Ireland-VII. (Section A: faunistic and ecological studies). The biology of the shanny, Blennius pholis L. (Pisces) at Carna, Connemara. Proc. R. Irish Acad. 77: 207-226.

Faria C., Almada V.C. 1999. Variation and resilience of rocky intertidal fish in western Portugal. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 184: 197-203.

Faria C., Almada V.C. 2006. Patterns of spatial distribution and behaviour of fish on a rocky intertidal platform at high tide. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 316: 155-164.

Faria C., Almada V.C., Gonçalves E.J. 1996. Juvenile recruitment, growth and maturation of Lipophrys pholis (Pisces: Blenniidae), from the west coast of Portugal. J. Fish Biol. 49: 727-730.

Faria C., Almada V.C., Nunes M.C. 1998. Patterns of agonistic behaviour, shelter occupation and habitat preference in juvenile Lipophrys pholis, Coryphoblennius galerita and Gobius cobitis. J. Fish Biol. 53: 1263-1273.

Faria C., Borges R., Gil F., Almada V.C., Gonçalves E.J. 2002. Embryonic and Larval Development of Lipophrys pholis (Pisces: Blenniidae). Sci. Mar. 66(1): 21-26.

Ferreira F., Santos M.M, Filipe Castro L., Reis-Henriques M.A., Lima D., Vieira M.N., Monteiro N.M. 2009. Vitellogenin gene expression in the intertidal blenny Lipophrys pholis: A new sentinel species for estrogenic chemical pollution monitoring in the European Atlantic coast? Comp. Biochem. Physiol. C. 149: 58-64.

Ferreira F., Santos M.M., Reis-Henriques M.A., Vieira M.N., Monteiro N.M. 2010. Sexing blennies using genital papilla morphology or ano-genital distance. J. Fish Biol. 77(6): 1432-1438. PMid:21039514

Ferreira F., Santos M.M., Reis-Henriques M.A., Vieira M.N., Monteiro N.M. 2011. The anual cycle of spernmatogenesis in Lipophrys pholis (Blenniidae), a recently proposed sentinel species for pollution monitoring. Ichthyol. Res.

Fives J.M. 1980. Littoral and benthic investigations on the west coast of Ireland XI. The biology of Montagu’s blenny, Coryphoblennius galerita L. (Pisces) on the Connemara coast. Proc. R. Irish Acad. B. 80: 63-79.

Fives J.M. 1986. Blennidae of the North Atlantic (revised). Identification Sheets on Fish Eggs and Larvae, number 172. Conseil International pour l’Exploration de la Mer, Danemark, 6 pp.

Ford E. 1922. On the young stages of Blennius ocellaris L., Blennius pholis L., and Blennius gattorugine L. J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. U.K. 12: 688-692.

Freere R.H., Weibel E.R. 1967. Stereological techniques in microscopy. J. R. Microsc. Soc. 87: 25-34.

Frenzilli G., Scarcelli V., Del Barga I., Nigro M., Förlin L., Bolognesi C., Sturve J. 2004. DNA damage in eelpout (Zoarces viviparus) from Göteborg harbour. Mutat. Res. Fund. Mol. Mech. Mut. 552(1/2): 187-95. PMid:15288551

Gibson R.N. 1967a. Experiments on the tidal rythm of Blennius pholis. J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. UK 47: 97-111.

Gibson R.N. 1967b. Studies on the movements of littoral fish. J. Anim. Ecol. 36(1): 215-234.

Gibson R.N. 1972. The vertical distribution and feeding relationships of intertidal fish on the Atlantic coast of France. J. Anim. Ecol. 41: 189-207.

Gibson R.N. 1982. Recent studies on the biology of intertidal fishes. Oceanogr. Mar. Biol. Annu. Rev. 20: 363-414.

Gibson R.N. 1999. Movement and homing in intertidal fishes. In: Horn M.H., Martin K.L.M., Chotkowski M.A. (eds.), Intertidal fishes: life in two worlds. San Diego, Academic Press, pp. 97-125.

Gercken J., Forlin L., Andersson J. 2006. Developmental disorders in larvae of eelpout (Zoarces viviparus) from German and Swedish Baltic coastal waters. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 53: 497-507. PMid:16364374

Harvey J.S., Lyons B.P., Page T.S., Stewart C., Parry J.M. 1999. An assessment of the genotoxic impact of the Sea Empress oil spill by the measurement of DNA adduct levels in selected invertebrate and vertebrate species. Mutat. Res. 441(1): 103-114. PMid:10224327

Holbech H., Kinnberg K., Petersen G.I., Jackson P., Hylland K., Norrgren L. Bjerregaard P. 2006. Detection of endocrine disrupters: evaluation of a Fish Sexual Development Test (FSDT). Comp. Biochem. Physiol. C. 144: 57-66.

Jobling S., Nolan M., Tyler C.R., Brighty G., Sumpter J.P. 1998. Widespread sexual disruption in wild fish. Environ. Sci. Technol. 32(17): 2498-2506.

Laming P.R., Funston C.W., Roberts D., Armstrong M.J. 1982. Behavioural, physiological and morphological adaptations of the shanny (Blennius pholis) to the intertidal habitat. J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. U.K. 62: 329-338.

Lebour M. 1927. The eggs and newly hatched young of the common blennies from the Plymouth neighbourhood. J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. U.K. 14: 647-650.

Lewis D.J., Holland D.L., Grove D.J., Huxley R. 1986. Influence of oil shale on intertidal organisms: Sensory impairment in the blenny, Blennius pholis L. by oil shale extracts. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. 95(2): 145-154.

Lima D., Santos M.M., Ferreira A.M., Micaelo C., Reis-Henriques M.A. 2008. The use of the shanny Lipophrys pholis for pollution monitoring: a new sentinel species for the north-western European marine ecosystems. Environ. Int. 34: 94-101. PMid:17719633

Lubzens E., Young G., Bobe J., Cerdá J. 2010. Oogenesis in teleosts: How fish eggs are formed. Gen. Comp. Endocrinol. 165: 367-389. PMid:19505465

Lyons B.P., Harvey J.S., Parry J.M. 1997. An initial assessment of the genotoxic impact of the Sea Empress oil spill by the measurement of DNA adduct levels in the intertidal teleost Lipophrys pholis. Mutat. Res. 390: 263-268. PMid:9186576

Matta S.L.P., Gomes M.L.M., Andrade D.R. 2009. Reproductive biology of Oligosarcus argentus (Gunther, 1864) adult males and description of the gonadal maturation stages. Braz. Arch. Biol. Tech. 52(1): 119-126.

Mazé R.A., Dominguez J., Pérez-Cardenal D. 1999. Diet of Lipophrys pholis (Teleostei, Blenniidae) in Cantabrian coastal waters (Spain). Acta Oecol. 20: 435-448.

Milton P. 1983. Biology of littoral blenniid fishes on the coast of South-West England. J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. U.K. 63: 223-237.

Monteiro N.M., Quinteira S.M., Silva K., Vieira M.N., Almada V.C. 2005. Diet preference reflects the ontogenic shift in microhabitat use in Lipophrys pholis. J. Fish Biol. 67: 102-113.

OECD 2009. OECD draft guidance document for the diagnosis of endocrine-related histopathology of fish gonads. Organization for Economic Co-operation Development, Paris, France, 96 pp.

Patzner R.A. 1983. The reproduction of Blennius pavo (Teleostei, Blenniidae). I. Ovarial cycle, environmental factors and feeding. Helgol. Mar. Res. 36(1): 105-114.

Qasim S.Z. 1956. The spawning habits and embryonic development of the shanny (Blennius pholis). Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 127: 144-155.

Qasim S.Z. 1957. The biology of Blennius pholis L. (Teleostei). Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 128: 161-208.

Santos R.S. 1995. Anatomy and histology of secondary sexual characters, gonad and liver of the rock-pool blenny, Parablennius sanguinolentus parvicornis (Pisces: Blenniidae) of the Azores. Arquipélago 13A: 21-38.

Santos H.B., Rizzo E., Bazzoli N., Sato Y., Moro L. 2005. Ovarian regression and apoptosis in the South American teleost Leporinus taeniatus Lütken (Characiformes, Anostomidae) from the São Francisco Basin. J. Fish Biol. 67: 1446-1459.

Santos M.M., Solé M., Lima D., Hambach B., Ferreira A.M., Reis-Henriques M.A. 2010. Validating a multi-biomarker approach with the shanny Lipophrys pholis to monitor oil spills in European marine ecosystems. Chemosphere 81(6): 685-691. PMid:20797766

Shackley S.E., King P.E. 1977. The reproductive cycle and its control: frequency of spawning and fecundity in Blennius pholis L. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 30: 73-83.

Schladot J.D., Backhaus F., Ostapczuk P., Emons H. 1997. Eel-pout (Zoarces viviparus L.) as a marine bioindicator. Chemosphere 34: 2133-2142.

Schmitt C.J., Hinck J.E., Blazer V.S., Denslow N.D., Dethloff G.M., Bartish T.M., Coyle J.J., Tillitt D.E. 2005. Environmental contaminants and biomarker responses in fish from the Rio Grande and its U.S. tributaries: Spatial and temporal trends. Sci. Total Environ. 350(1-3): 161-193. PMid:16227080

Scholz S., Klüver N. 2009. Effects of endocrine disrupters on sexual, gonadal development in fish. Sex. Dev. 3: 136-151. PMid:19684458

Solé M., Lobera G., Lima D., Reis-Henriques M.A., Santos M.M. 2008. Esterases activities and lipid peroxidation levels in muscle tissue of the shanny Lipophrys pholis along several sites from the Portuguese Coast. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 56: 999-1007. PMid:18295805

Sumpter J.P. 2005. Endocrine disruptors in the aquatic environment: an overview. Acta Hydrochim. Hydrobiol. 33: 9-16.

Tyler C.R., Sumpter J.P. 1996. Cellular and dynamic aspects of oocyte growth in teleosts. Rev. Fish Biol. Fish. 6: 287-318.

Weber L.P., Hill Jr., Janz D.M. 2003. Developmental estrogenic exposure in zebra fish (Danio rerio). II. Histological evaluation of gametogenesis and organ toxicity. Aquat. Toxicol. 63: 431-446.

Zander C.D. 1986. Blenniidae. In: Whitehead P.J.P., Bauchot M.L, Hureau J.C., Nielsen J., Tortonese E.E. (eds.), Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean, UNESCO, Paris, Vol. III, pp. 1096-1112.

Zander C.D., Nieder J., Martin K. 1999. Vertical distribution patterns. In: Horn M.H., Martin K.L.M., Chotkowski M.A. (eds.), Intertidal Fishes: Life in two Worlds, London, Academic Press, pp. 26-53.

Copyright (c) 2012 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Contact us

Technical support