Temperature-induced testicular germ cell loss and recovery in Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus

Ye Hwa Jin, Andrew Davie, Herve Migaud

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Water temperature is a critical external factor influencing gonadal development in fish. This research aimed to study the impact of elevated temperature on testicular germ cell survival and reproductive capacity of Nile tilapia. Male Nile tilapia were exposed to high temperatures of either 36 (HT1) or 37 °C (HT2) for 3000 degree-days (DD) and thereafter returned to the control temperature of 27 °C (CT) for 2200 DD. The deleterious effects on testicular germ and somatic cells were observed histologically, characterised by vacuolisation, atrophy and the loss of spermatogenic cells in testes with a more severe impact of HT2 compared to HT1. Interestingly, serum 11-ketotestosterone (11-KT) and testosterone (T) levels tended to be higher during the heat treatments than CT. Expression levels of germline-specific genes piwil1, piwil2 and nanos2 and Bcl-2 family genes, bcl-xLb and baxa were significantly reduced during the heat treatment compared to CT, more so in the HT2, while the levels of nanos3 and gfra1 transcripts were only significantly reduced in HT2, implying a significant loss of spermatogonial stem cell (SSC) and spermatogonia in HT2. The effect of HT2 is further evidenced by the significantly reduced sperm density and fertilisation rate compared to CT and HT1 at the end of the recovery period but complete sterility was not induced by HT2. Overall, the present study showed significant effects of HT2 on germ cell survival with histological changes in testes, reduced milt quality, increased 11-KT, and decreased expression of germline-specific genes, SSC marker genes and Bcl-2 family genes in testes which could therefore be potential target genes for sterilisation by genome editing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113227
JournalGeneral And Comparative Endocrinology
Early online date23 Jul 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jul 2019


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