Egg quality in fishes has been a topic of research in aquaculture and fisheries for decades as it represents an important life history trait and is critical for captive propagation and successful recruitment. A major factor influencing egg quality is proper yolk formation, as most fishes are oviparous and the developing offspring are entirely dependent on stored egg yolk for nutritional sustenance. These maternally derived nutrients consist of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, minerals, and ions that are transported from the liver to the ovary by lipoprotein particles including vitellogenins. The yolk composition may be influenced by broodstock diet, husbandry, and other intrinsic and extrinsic conditions. In addition, a number of other maternal factors that may influence egg quality also are stored in eggs, such as gene transcripts, that direct early embryonic development. Dysfunctional regulation of gene or protein expression may lead to poor quality eggs and failure to thrive within hours of fertilization. These gene transcripts may provide important markers as their expression levels may be used to screen broodstock for potential spawning success. In addition to such intrinsic factors, stress may lead to ovarian atresia or reproductive failure and can impact fish behavior, fecundity, and ovulation rate. Finally, postovulatory aging may occur when eggs become overripe and the fish fails to spawn in a timely fashion, leading to low fertility, often encountered during manual strip spawning of fish.
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