Sherry Tamone is Professor of Biology, Emerita
The protandric life history of the Northern spot shrimp Pandalus platyceros: molecular insights and implications for fishery management.The Northern spot shrimp, Pandalus platyceros, a protandric hermaphrodite of commercial importance in North America, is the primary target species for shrimp fisheries within Southeast Alaska. Fishery data obtained from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game indicate that spot shrimp populations have been declining significantly over the past 25 years. We collected spot shrimps in Southeast Alaska and measured reproductive-related morphological, gonadal and molecular changes during the entire life history. The appendix masculina, a major sexual morphological indicator, is indicative of the reproductive phase of the animal, lengthening during maturation from juvenile to the male phase and then gradually shortening throughout the transitional stages until its complete disappearance upon transformation to a female. This morphological change occurs in parallel with the degeneration of testicular tissue in the ovotestis and enhanced ovarian vitellogenesis. Moreover, we obtained the entire mRNA sequence of the yolk protein precursor, vitellogenin, and monitored its transcript levels throughout the entire shrimp life-cycle. Vitellogenin transcript levels in the hepatopancreas increased in the early transitional stage until reaching a peak prior to extruding eggs. Such transcriptomic analyses, coupled with a comprehensive description of the gonad, external sex characters and timing of the reproductive life history of spot shrimps contribute to a better understanding of the hermaphroditic reproduction process in the cold Southeast Alaskan waters. This knowledge can contribute to a revision of current conservation efforts to maintain wild populations sustainable for both commercial and ecological considerations.