Puberty is the process by which an organism acquires for the first time the capacity to reproduce. As in other vertebrates, reproduction in fish is governed by the endocrine brain-pituitary-gonad-(B-P-G) axis. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone produced by neurons in the brain stimulates the synthesis and release of pituitary gonadotropins, which promote gonad development and steroidogenesis. Underlying mechanisms controlling the onset of puberty are still poorly understood.
Investment in reproduction is an energetically costly event across vertebrate groups and puberty initiation, as well as sustained reproductive function is tightly linked to nutritional status and the amount of stored energy. Peripheral metabolic signals, which convey the energy stores of the animal to the brain are therefore considered important in the initiation of puberty. We aim to understand the endocrine and molecular signalling pathways linking growth and energy stores to reproduction in fish, using salmon and zebrafish as model organism.