Spermatogenesis and plasma testosterone levels in Western Australian burrowing desert frogs, Cyclorana platycephala, Cyclorana maini, and Neobatrachus sutor, during aestivation

A.G. Shalan, Don Bradshaw, Philip Withers, G. Thompson, M.F.F. Bayomy, Felicity Bradshaw, Tom Stewart

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    Abstract

    Changes in testis size, histological status, and plasma levels of testosterone were monitored for males of three species of Western Australian desert frogs, Cyclorana maini, Cyclorana platycephala, and Neobatrachus sutor during aestivation. The frogs were induced to burrow and form cocoons soon after their capture and then disinterred at intervals in order to monitor changes in reproductive activity of the testes. All stages of spermatogenesis were evident in active frogs, which were collected a few days following rain from breeding choruses. Relative testis mass declined gradually in all species during the first 7 months of aestivation and then increased significantly at 16-19 months in the two species for which extended data were available (C maini and N. sutor). A decrease in the number of sperm bundles 2-4 months after cocooning was associated with an initial increase in the number of free spermatazoa in all three species, which then returned to the levels seen in active animals after 7 months. Increases in the number of primary and secondary spermatogonia were most evident in C platycephala after 4-7 months of aestivation, but early stages of spermatocytogenesis were evident in all species after 7 months of aestivation, especially in individuals that contained neither sperm bundles nor mature spermatazoa. Changes in plasma testosterone levels correlated significantly with variations in the diameter of the seminiferous tubules and the GSI, suggesting that this hormone plays a major role in controlling testicular recrudescence in aestivating, cocooned, desert frogs. Data from this study show that, in the absence of any external cues, testicular recrudescence is evident after approximately one year of aestivation in desert frogs which prepares them to breed again, once rain falls. (C) 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)90-100
    JournalGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology
    Volume136
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2004

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