The fertilization and activation of fishoocytes are vital, but unfortunatelyoverlooked, processes in fisheries research.This paper sets out to review our presentunderstanding of these important events inteleost fish and, drawing comparisons withmammalian research, to highlight areas in whichresearch effort is urgently required. Presently, the commercial culture of manyimportant freshwater, but especially marine,teleosts is beset by problems associated withfertilization, hatching and early embryonicdevelopment. These problems have beenparticularly acute in certain species leadingto the application of spawning inductiontechnologies in an effort to optimizeproduction. Increased knowledge of theprocesses of egg activation and fertilizationin these groups of fish is likely to makesignificant contribution to commercialaquaculture. Studies of a wide variety ofanimal and plant species has demonstrated thatdevelopment at fertilization is triggered by anincrease in intracellular Ca2+concentration within the egg that occurs aseither a single transient or a series ofdistinctive oscillations depending upon thespecies under investigation. This increase inintracellular Ca2+ activates the egg andalso appears to play an important role in laterembryonic development. Teleost reproductivestrategies and more importantly, teleostoocytes and spermatozoa, exhibit a remarkablevariety of adaptations. Currently, studies ofegg activation in teleosts are confined tolaboratory species such as medaka Oryziaslatipes and zebrafish Brachydanio rerio.Nevertheless, even between these two species,although an increase in intracellular Ca2+appears to be the trigger in both cases, themechanism of Ca2+ release may be quitedifferent. Activation in medaka is initiatedonly through direct contact with conspecificsperm, suggesting the involvement of asperm-specific factor, while zebrafish eggsappear to require only contact with theexternal spawning medium. In view of the highlyvariable fertility rates evident in manycommercially cultured teleosts, it could bevery rewarding to investigate the mechanism ofegg activation in representative teleost groupsusing the findings and theories emerging fromother animal groups as a starting point. Inorder to successfully conduct such aninvestigation, it will be necessary to employ acombination of physiological, molecular andrecombinant approaches.
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 13, 2004
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