We aim to understand the fundamentals of oogenesis and egg quality in fishes. Poor egg quality is a major problem in finfish aquaculture that has remained intractable and causally unknown despite decades of research. We apply recent advances in functional genomics to address widespread female reproductive failure in fisheries and on commercial fish farms and to provide solutions to this problem.
Egg Yolk Formation
Developing offspring of oviparous animals are entirely dependent on stored egg yolk for nutritional sustenance. The nutrients stored in the ovulated egg must be sufficient to sustain the development of progeny from the time of fertilization to the onset of exogenous feeding. Vitellogenesis is the process whereby the required yolk nutrients are deposited into growing oocytes, which eventually give rise to eggs. These nutrients consist of maternally derived substances, including proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, and minerals that are collectively transported from the liver to the ovary in the form of circulating yolk precursors called vitellogenins. We characterize this complex and fundamental process to better understand oogenesis and egg quality in commercially important fish species.
The goal of the National Program for Genetic Improvement and Selective Breeding for the Hybrid Striped Bass Industry is domestication and selective breeding to produce superior hybrid striped bass that will enable commercial producers not only to continue bringing fish to market, but also to decrease product prices and expand the industry. We are currently sequencing the striped bass and white bass genomes to further this effort.