Advances in fish gametes and embryo research

Aquaculture journal has recently published a special number (Volume 472) entitled “Recent advances in fish gametes and embryo research”, which gathers 10 reviews written by several researchers participating in the AQUAGAMETE COST Action, dealing on different topics in this research area.

The special number is available here:

The ten titles of these reviews are:
-Biology of teleost primordial germ cells (PGCs) and spermatogonia: Biotechnological applications.
-Hormonal manipulations for the enhancement of sperm production in cultured fish and evaluation of sperm quality.
-Paternal contribution to development: Sperm genetic damage and repair in fish.
-Energetics of fish spermatozoa: The proven and the possible.
-Role of protein phosphorylation/dephosphorylation in fish sperm motility activation: State of the art and perspectives.
-Fish semen proteomics — New opportunities in fish reproductive research.
-Epigenetics in fish gametes and early embryo.
-Maternal investment in fish oocytes and eggs: The molecular cargo and its contributions to fertility and early development.
-Integrated control of fish metabolism, wellbeing and reproduction: The role of probiotic.
-Cryobanking of aquatic species.


The AQUAGAMETE COST Action has officially ended. During its 4 years of duration, we have managed to achieve our main milestones, involving 450 researchers from 27 countries.

As most notable successes, we have continued the series of biennial International Workshop on the Biology of Fish Gametes (IWBFG), which started in 2007 and was the origin of this Action. Within the Action, the 4th and 5th editions were organized in Albufeira (Portugal, 2013) and in Ancona (Italy, 2015), respectively, showing a nice increase in the number of participants and number of countries involved.

The organization of 7 Training Schools has enabled 124 students and company representatives to learn about different topics related to fish gametes.

We have published, by now, a total of 44 scientific papers and one dissemination article. And we still have to finish the publication of the Proceedings of the 5th IWBFG in General and Comparative Endocrinology, 10 review articles in Aquaculture, 7 videos with different protocols in JoVE, and a dissemination article with the main conclusions achieved during the Action.

Moreover, we have bet the COST record in number of Short Term Scientific Missions performed per Action period, with a total of 105 missions (personally, I think we should feel especially proud of these chances offered to our younger researchers).

We will continue updating the AQUAGAMETE webpage whenever we have news.

AQUAGAMETE Symposium in Japan


The AQUAGAMETE COST Action will develop a symposium entitled “Symposium AQUAGAMETE: Reproduction of Aquatic Animals”, in the frame of the 22nd International Conference on Zoology (ICZ), which will take place co-located with the 87th meeting of Zoological Society of Japan, in Okinawa (Japan), from November 15th to 19th, 2016. The symposium has been organized by Prof. Manabu Yoshida (University of Tokio, Japan) and Juan F. Asturiano (UPV, Spain).

Some AQUAGAMETE members will travel there to present the following oral communications:

  • AQUAGAMETE COST Action. Resume of activities and results 2013-2016
    J.F. Asturiano, M.J. Bayarri, Á. Horváth
  • Sperm cryopreservation and vitrification of aquatic species
    Á. Horváth, E. Kása, J.F. Asturiano
  • Activation mechanisms of European eel sperm
    L. Pérez, M.C. Vílchez, J.F. Asturiano
  • Generation of germ-line chimera in sturgeons
    M. Psenicka, M. Rodina, Z. Linhartova, H. Guralp, V. Iegorova, K. Pocherniaieva, E. Fatira, A. Golpour, T. Saito

Moreover, from the UPV the following posters will be presented:

  • Specific recombinant gonadotropins induce for the first time in European eel (Anguilla anguilla) full spermiating fish from immature males
    D.S. Peñaranda, V. Gallego, C. Rozenfeld, M.C. Vílchez, L. Pérez, A. Gómez, I. Giménez, J.F. Asturiano
  • The grass pufferfish (Takifugu niphobles): a model species for reproduction studies
    V. Gallego, M. Yoshida, G.J. Fraser, J.F. Asturiano

Training School by ITN IMPRESS

The ITN IMPRESS has organized their 3rd Training School in Vodnany (Czech Republic), October 18th – 26th, 2016. It’s entitled “Brookstock management / Entrepreneurship, commercialization and intellectual property rights”.

Registration is open to any student who would like to apply, so please feel free to disseminate this announcement.


Downloadable files:

A novel ice nucleating agent

A Greek research team that has been working on Cryobiology and Biological Ice Nucleation for almost two decades have identified a novel ice nucleating agent, using a recently developed platform. Preliminary experiments with ram sperm produced excellent results regarding the sperm’s motility.
For further information please visit:

This innovation might have an application in fish gametes’ cryopreservation. The application has been successfully applied in ram sperm, and a colleague from the Technological Educational Institution of Thessaly is interested to apply this in fish gametes as well.

Please follow the link above, or alternatively e-mail to Dr. Panagiotis (Panos) Pantazis any queries. (

Marina Morini defended her PhD

Tesis Marina

Last Friday 15th of July Marina Morini defended her PhD, entitled “Molecular approaches related to the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) reproductive process”, that has been co-supervised by Juan F. Asturiano and David S. Peñaranda, and mainly funded by the project PRO-EEL (UE), the project REPRO-TERM (MINECO) and the AQUAGAMETE COST Action.

Dr. José Miguel Cerdá Reverter (Instituto de Acuicultura de Torre la Sal, CSIC), acted as the Chairman in the examining board, together with Dr. Ibón Cancio, from Universidad del País Vasco (secretary) and Dr. Salima Aroua (Université du Havre, France).

Marina obtained the highest mark, Sobresaliente Cum Laude. Congratulations, Dr. Morini!

The final document is a compilation of 4 articles:
● Temperature modulates the testis steroidogenesis in European eel
Peñaranda et al., 2016. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology
● Expression of nuclear and membrane estrogen receptors in the European eel throughout spermatogenesis
Morini et al., submitted to Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology
● Nuclear and membrane progestin receptors in the European eel: characterization and expression in vivo through spermatogenesis
Morini et al., submitted to PloS ONE
● Transcript levels of the soluble sperm factor protein phospholipase C zeta 1 (PLCζ1) increase through induced spermatogenesis in European eel
Morini et al., 2015. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology

The document includes a general introduction and discussion and it will be available in some weeks upon request by email to Juan F. Asturiano (

The European eel (Anguilla anguilla, L., 1758) population is in dramatic decline, so much so that this species has been listed as “Critically Endangered” on the Red List of Threatened Species, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The European eel has a complex life cycle, with sexual maturation blocked in the absence of the reproductive oceanic migration, and an inability to mature in captivity without the administration of hormonal treatments. Even though experimental maturation induces gamete production of both sexes, the fertilization results in infertile eggs, unviable embryos and larvae, which die within a few days of hatching. Therefore, understanding the eel reproductive physiology during maturation is very important if we want to recover the wild eel population. Furthermore, due to its phylogenetic position, representative of a basal group of teleosts, the Elopomorphs, the Anguilla species may provide insights into ancestral regulatory physiology processes of reproduction in teleosts, the largest group of vertebrates.

In this thesis, characterization, phylogeny and synteny analyses have given us new insight into the evolutionary history of the reproductive process in vertebrates. The European eel possesses five membrane (mPRs) and two nuclear (nPR or pgrs) progestin receptors. Eel mPRs clustered in two major monophyletic groups. Phylogeny analysis of vertebrate nPRs and PLCζ1 (sperm specific protein) places both eel PLCζ1 and nPR sequences at the base of the teleost clade, which is consistent with the basal position of elopomorphs in the phylogeny of teleosts. To further resolve the origin of the duplicated eel nPRs, synteny analyses of the nPR neighboring genes in several vertebrate genomes were performed. Phylogeny and synteny analyses allowed us to propose the hypothesis that eel duplicated nPRs originated from the 3R.

In order to gain a better understanding of the role of the genes implicated in eel reproduction, analyses of their regulation during experimental maturation were carried out. The change in salinity induced parallel increases in E2 plasma and nuclear estrogen receptor expression levels, revealing a stimulatory effect of salinity on the E2 signalling pathway along the BPG axis, leading to a control of spermatogonial stem cell renewal. Brain and pituitary estrogen receptors may then mediate the stimulation of androgens and steroidogenic enzymes linked to androgen synthesis. Androgen synthesis is not dependent on temperature, but further maturation requires higher temperatures to induce a change in the steroidogenic pathway towards estrogen and progestin synthesis. This is consistent with our studies on estrogen and progestin receptors. In the testis, progestin seems to regulate meiosis through membrane and nuclear progestin receptors, and final sperm maturation seems to be controlled by both estrogen and progestin through the estrogen and progestin membrane receptors. Finally, eel sperm-specific PLCζ1 seems to have an important function in spermatozoa by inducing egg activation and temperature may play a role in its regulation, especially during the process of spermiogenesis.

This thesis attempts to evaluate the physiological function of the genes involved in eel reproduction during spermatogenesis, and demonstrates that salinity and temperature play crucial roles in the sexual maturation of the male European eel.







Results of the 9th call for STSM

Foto avión teclado







In the 9th call, the last one in the AQUAGAMETE COST Action, 7 Short Term Scientific Missions were granted: 3 persons from Hungary travelling to the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Spain; 1 participant from Denmark visiting France; 1 person from Portugal travelling to Norway; 1 person from Greece visiting to South Africa and 1 person from Israel going to Norway.

Gook luck to everyone!