Article

Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 287-318

First online:

Oocyte growth and development in teleosts

  • C. R. TylerAffiliated withFish Physiology Research Group, Department of Biology and Biochemistry, Brunel University
  • , J. P. SumpterAffiliated withFish Physiology Research Group, Department of Biology and Biochemistry, Brunel University

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Abstract

Oocyte growth and development is an important issue in fish and fisheries biology. This paper reviews the information available on oocyte growth patterns and the rates and dynamics of oocyte growth in teleosts. In synchronous spawners, the weight of the gonad may represent as much as 40% of the overall body weight of the fish. In asynchronous spawners, the weight of the mature ovary is considerably less than in synchronous ovulators, but the ovary shows a more regular periodicity and may grow repeatedly many times during the breeding season. There is a huge variability in egg size in teleosts, with the largest known measuring up to 8 cm in diameter. Within the limits of variance set by genetic constraints, egg size may vary between populations of the same species. Oocytes in all teleosts undergo the same basic pattern of growth: oogenesis, primary oocyte growth, cortical alveolus stage, vitellogenesis, maturation and ovulation. The mechanisms that control oocyte growth are addressed in this review, albeit that the available information, as in all other vertebrates, is very limited. The main hormones that have been shown to affect ovarian growth are gonadotrophin, thyroid hormones, growth hormone, insulin and insulin-like growth factors. An overview of the determinants of fecundity, with particular reference to oocyte recruitment and atresia, is the focus of the second part of the paper. Genetics and nutrition have major effects on fecundity, and studies so far suggest that the determinants of fecundity usually operate during the early part of gametogenesis. The role of atresia in determining fecundity is less clear. The final part of this review highlights some areas of study that are priorities for research on ovarian development in fish.