, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 387-416

Egg quality in fish: what makes a good egg?

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Factors affecting egg quality are determined by the intrinsic properties of the egg itself and the environment in which the egg is fertilized and subsequently incubated. Egg quality in fish is very variable. Some of the factors affecting egg quality in fish are known, but many (probably most) are unknown. Components that do affect egg quality include the endocrine status of the female during the growth of the oocyte in the ovary, the diet of the broodfish, the complement of nutrients deposited into the oocyte, and the physiochemical conditions of the water in which the eggs are subsequently incubated. In captive broodfish, the husbandry practices to which fish are subjected are probably a major contributory factor affecting egg quality. Our knowledge of the genetic influences on egg quality is very limited indeed. We know that parental genes strongly influence both fecundity and egg quality, but almost nothing is known about gene expression and/or mRNA translation in fish oocytes/embryos. This is surprising because the products synthesized in ovoand the mechanisms controlling their expression are likely to play a central role in determining egg quality. The genetic mechanisms underpinning oocyte and embryo growth and development are a priority for research