Gonadal sex steroid hormones are the principal factors that directly control the gonadal and morphological alterations during sex change in hermaphrodite fish; however, the physiological mechanism of action by which these hormones govern body coloration is poorly understood. The protogynous wrasse Pseudolabrus sieboldi is a good model for understanding the physiological mechanisms of gonadal and body color change during sex change in hermaphrodite fish. To obtain information on the relationship between sex steroids and body color change during the process of gonadal sex change, we analyzed body color, gonadal histology, and serum levels of sex steroids. Body color was analyzed using a quantitative analytical method based on the hue value. Compared to other body parts of the fish, the anal fin changed color the most, becoming increasingly redder in association with gonadal changes that converted ovaries to testes. Levels of serum 11-ketotestosterone (11KT) increased as the gonadal sex change proceeded, whereas no significant change was observed in estradiol-17β (E2) levels. Moreover, we found a significant correlation between the hue value of the anal fin and serum 11KT levels, but not E2 levels. These results suggest that androgen, but not estrogen, plays a principle role in the changes in both gonadal morphology and body color in the transformation from female to male in this species. To our knowledge, this is the first quantitative demonstration of the relationship between body color and serum steroid levels during sex change in fish.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science