The effects of stress, cortisol administration and cortisol inhibition on black sea bass (Centropristis striata) sex differentiation.

Academic Article


  • Sex differentiation in many lower vertebrates (e.g. reptiles, amphibians, and fishes) can be influenced by environmental factors experienced during sensitive developmental periods. Environmental stressors, acting through cortisol, masculinize some teleost fishes during development by limiting gonadal cytochrome P450 aromatase (cyp19a1a), the enzyme that irreversibly converts testosterone to 17β-estradiol. In this study, we examined the influence of cortisol, cortisol inhibitors and a repeated, acute stressor (net-chasing) on sex differentiation in black sea bass (BSB; Centropristis striata), a protogynous hermaphroditic teleost. Wild-caught, sexually-undifferentiated, BSB juveniles (~90 mm) were collected from Rhode Island waters, raised in recirculating systems and fed diets supplemented with cortisol, a cortisol receptor antagonist (mifepristone), a cortisol synthesis inhibitor (metyrapone), or net-chased twice a week for two min until gonads were differentiated (77-89 days). Long term cortisol administration partially masculinized all female fish, but repeated net-chasing did not alter sex differentiation relative to the control group. Blocking cortisol receptor binding delayed sex differentiation in some individuals, but overall led to increased masculinization compared to control fish. The proportion of treatment fish that developed as males suggests a functionally, diandric protogynous reproductive strategy in this species. We also identified a glucocorticoid response element in the gonadal aromatase (cyp19a1a) promoter, indicating a possible relationship between cortisol and cyp19a1a gene expression.
  • Authors

  • Miller, Kelsie A
  • Kenter, Linas
  • Breton, Timothy S
  • Berlinsky, David L
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • January 2019
  • Keywords

  • Animals
  • Bass
  • Black sea bass
  • Centropristis striata
  • Cortisol
  • Female
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Male
  • Metyrapone
  • Mifepristone
  • Sex Differentiation
  • Sex differentiation
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Stress, aromatase
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 30326270
  • Start Page

  • 154
  • End Page

  • 160
  • Volume

  • 227