Investigating the Ovarian Microstructure in the Genera Helicolenus and Scorpaena (Teleostei, Sub-Order Scorpaenoidei) with Implications for Ovarian Dynamics and Spawning

rockfish gonad histology morphology ovarian dynamic Central–Western Mediterranean


The sub-order Scorpenoidei appears to be particularly interesting due to the presence of intermediate stages between oviparity and viviparity in several species. The present study aims to describe the ovarian morphology, using a histological and histochemical approach, in four ovuliparous species belonging to Scorpaena genus compared with a zygoparous species, H. dactylopterus, focusing also on the assessment of the ovarian dynamics in the populations of such species in Sardinia waters (central–western Mediterranean). Ovarian sections of all species were examined using light microscopy. All species showed a specialized ovary, cystovarian type II-3, strictly related to the production of gelatinous matrices surrounding the eggs. Some microscopic peculiarities in the oogenesis process were found: thin zona pellucida, small and low cortical alveoli, and a specialized ovarian wall during the spawning period. All species analyzed were batch-spawners with an asynchronous ovarian organization. A continuous recruitment of oocytes and the occurrence of de novo vitellogenesis was also observed. During the spawning period, low atresia intensity was detected, while a marked increase in this intensity found in the ovaries at the end of spawning season. Our observations may support an indeterminate fecundity type for these species.