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Maternal Legacy - Molecular portrait of a developmentally competent fish egg

Embryon Zebrafish
© Inra - Julien Bobe
National program coordinated by Julien Bobe

The control and understanding of oocyte quality (i.e. the oocyte ability to be fertilized and subsequently develop into a normal embryo) is an important socio-economical issue in the context of human and animal reproduction. “What does it take to make a developmentally competent egg?” is also a major scientific question shared by all animals. The aim of the present proposal is to address this question using zebrafish (Danio rerio) that is a model species for development in vertebrates but that we also intend to use as a model for understanding egg quality determinism in aquaculture fish species.

In a first step of the project (tasks 1-3), we will aim at defining the molecular portrait of a developmentally competent fish egg using a model species, the zebrafish (Danio rerio), and a deep-sequencing illumina-based RNA-seq approach to correlate egg developmental potential with egg maternal transcriptome. This analysis will provide a global molecular picture of the developmentally competent zebrafish egg and will lead to the identification of maternally-inherited mRNAs exhibiting a differential abundance in eggs of different quality. These maternal mRNAs will subsequently be studied, in a second step, to achieve two separate objectives. The first objective, pursued in task 4, will be to functionally demonstrate the biological relevance and importance of selected maternal mRNAs for developmental success using a knock-down strategy in zebrafish. The second objective, pursued in task 5, will be to evaluate the potential of the maternal mRNAs identified above to become molecular markers of egg quality using other teleost species selected for their economic importance and evolutionary position.