The sexual plasticity of fish gonads declines after the sex differentiation period; however, information about the plasticity of the germ cells themselves after sex differentiation is limited. Using rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), we recently established a novel germ cell transplantation system that provides a unique platform with which to dissect the developmental and cellular mechanisms underlying gametogenesis. Using this technique, we show here that transplanted ovarian germ cells isolated from 6- to 9-month-old donors can colonize sexually undifferentiated embryonic gonads and resume gametogenesis. Ovarian germ cells containing oogonia and early oocytes isolated from female rainbow trout were transplanted into the peritoneal cavities of hatching-stage fry of both sexes and the behavior of the donor cells was observed. The transplanted ovarian germ cells migrated towards the recipient gonads, interacted with embryonic gonadal somatic cells, proliferated rapidly, and eventually differentiated into eggs in female recipients and sperm in male recipients. Furthermore, the donor-derived eggs and sperm obtained from the recipient fish were functional and were able to produce normal offspring. These findings indicate that mitotic germ cells, the oogonia, possess a high level of sexual plasticity.
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