Semilunar follicular cycle of an intertidal fish: The Fundulus model

Shyn Min Hsiao, Sean W. Limesand, Robin A. Wallace

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27 Scopus citations


In their habitat, Fundulus heteroclitus (Cyprinodontidae) spawn against a variety of specific substrates that become available only at spring tides; they thus exhibit a semilunar reproductive cyclicity. In the laboratory at 28 ± 0.6°C and 14L:10D, this cyclicity is free running and can be observed by means of daily egg collection and frequent ovarian sampling. Daily egg collection cycles gathered from three different spawning groups were pooled chronologically; the cycles were determined by nonlinear regression sine- curve matching and so were dated from Days -6 to +6, with Day 0 as the peak egg collection day. Ovaries were sampled on Days -6, -4, -2, -1, +1, +2, and +4. The pooled data indicate that early-maturing follicles (1.3- to 1.6-mm diameter) are recruited from a constant reserve of vitellogenic follicles (0.7- to 1.2-mm diameter) and become abundant early in the cycle but are depleted during Days -6 to +4 by the formation of late-maturing follicles and ovulated eggs. A midcycle peak of ovulated eggs in the ovary corresponds to the egg collection peak. This progression of follicles followed by spawning decreases the total count of the follicles (≥ 0.7-mm diameter) and eggs in the ovary by 52% (from 454 to 219 per 10 g of female weight). The semilunar follicular cycle in this Fundulus model thus includes 1) an early-cycle follicle recruitment, 2) an early- and midcycle follicle maturation, and 3) a midcycle egg ovulation and spawning. This follicular cycle also proceeds in fish deprived of a spawning substrate. A female in the wild would thus execute the follicular cycling in a timely sequence, in anticipation of each recurring spring tide, whether or not a natural substrate becomes available. We conclude that F. heteroclitus provides a useful nonmammalian model for the study of cyclic reproductive activity in the laboratory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)809-818
Number of pages10
JournalBiology of reproduction
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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