Chen, W., and Ge, W. (2013) Gonadal differentiation and puberty onset in the zebrafish: Evidence for the dependence of puberty onset on body growth but not age in females. Molecular reproduction and development. 80(5):384-92.
Puberty is the period in the vertebrate life cycle that marks the transition from sexual immaturity to maturity, enabling an animal to acquire adult reproductive functions. An important point in vertebrate reproductive life, puberty has been under extensive study in the past decades. It has been known for a long time that the initiation of puberty in mammals is closely associated with body growth and metabolism; however, there has been no equivalent report in small model teleosts such as the zebrafish. Using morphological and histological analysis, this study was undertaken to examine the timing of gonadal differentiation and female maturation (puberty) in the zebrafish, with particular emphasis on the potential impact of body growth on the onset of puberty. Our data showed that gonadal differentiation in the zebrafish completed around 35 days post-fertilization (dpf) in females and 45 dpf in males. Puberty in females is initiated at around 45 dpf. Our experiments provided clear evidence that the initiation of puberty in female zebrafish was strongly correlated with body size but not age, supporting the importance of the growth axis in the onset of puberty. This study provides essential information on basic characteristics of growth and reproduction in zebrafish.