Most farmed fishes exhibit problems producing high quality eggs, which has adverse socioeconomic impacts and endangers global food security. Almost no attention has been paid to imbalance of egg proteins crucial for early development as a potential cause of poor egg quality. The major components of fish eggs are yolk proteins (YPs) derived from circulating precursors, vitellogenins (Vtgs). All fish produce multiple types of Vtg and the different types may play disparate roles in oocyte maturation and embryonic versus larval nutrition. Underlying cytological events involve complex systems of Vtg receptors, endocytotic elements, enzymes and other proteome components. Preliminary evidence that dysfunction of these systems contributes to poor egg quality has been obtained. The proposed research will exploit zebrafish, having a sequenced genome, as a laboratory model for proteomics of fish egg quality. Objectives are; 1) Molecular characterization of multiple Vtg gene structure, expression, product proteins and phylogeny, 2) Quantification of the Vtgs or their derived YPs in maternal females, oocytes, eggs and offspring of good and poor quality spawns, and 3) Identification of the most significant Vtgs and their functions via application of novel vtg gene knock-out technology. This research will reveal fundamental molecular details of vitellogenesis and its relation to egg quality common to zebrafish and important farmed species. The host institution has ideal infrastructure and expertise available to the applicant to carry out the research, and the scientist-in-charge and his group are international leaders in this specific research area. The overall mobility program will endow the applicant with the scientific knowledge, the technical capabilities and other transferable professional skills, and the international network and visibility required for her to develop a superior research career of significant benefit to the European Research Area and associated countries.
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