Sex dimorphism in European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax L.): New insights into sex-related growth patterns during very early life stages
|Author(s)||Faggion Sara1, Vandeputte Marc2, Vergnet Alain1, Clota Frederic2, Blanc Marie-Odile1, Sanchez Pierre2, Ruelle Francois1, Allal Francois1, Wang Hanping1|
|Affiliation(s)||1 : MARBEC, CNRS, Ifremer, IRD, Univ Montpellier, Palavas-les-Flots, France
2 : MARBEC, CNRS, Ifremer, IRD, Univ Montpellier, Palavas-les-Flots, France, INRAE, AgroParisTech, GABI, Université Paris-Saclay, Jouy-en-Josas, France
|Source||PLOS ONE (1932-6203) (Public Library of Science (PLoS)), 2021-04 , Vol. 16 , N. 4 , P. e0239791 (14p.)|
The European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) exhibits female-biased sexual size dimorphism (SSD) early in development. New tagging techniques provide the opportunity to monitor individual sex-related growth during the post-larval and juvenile stages. We produced an experimental population through artificial fertilization and followed a rearing-temperature protocol (~16°C from hatching to 112 days post-hatching, dph; ~20°C from 117 to 358 dph) targeting a roughly balanced sex ratio. The fish were tagged with microchips between 61 and 96 dph in five tagging trials of 50 fish each; individual standard length (SL) was recorded through repeated biometric measurements performed between 83 to 110 dph via image analyses. Body weight (BW) was modelled using the traits measured on the digital pictures (i.e. area, perimeter and volume). At 117 dph, the fish were tagged with microtags and regularly measured for SL and BW until 335 dph. The experiment ended at 358 dph with the sexing of the fish. The sex-ratio at the end of the experiment was significantly in favor of the females (65.6% vs. 34.4%). The females were significantly longer and heavier than the males from 103 dph (~30 mm SL, ~0.44 g BW) to 165 dph, but the modeling of the growth curves suggests that differences in size already existed at 83 dph. A significant difference in the daily growth coefficient (DGC) was observed only between 96 and 103 dph, suggesting a physiological or biological change occurring during this period. The female-biased SSD pattern in European sea bass is thus strongly influenced by very early growth differences between sexes, as already shown in previous studies, and in any case long before gonadal sex differentiation has been started, and thus probably before sex has been determined. This leads to the hypothesis that early growth might be a cause rather than a consequence of sex differentiation in sea bass.