Current knowledge on the photoneuroendocrine regulation of reproduction in temperate fish species
Seasonality is an important adaptive trait in temperate fish species as it entrains or regulates most physiological events such as reproductive cycle, growth profile, locomotor activity and key life-stage transitions. Photoperiod is undoubtedly one of the most predictable environmental signals that can be used by most living organisms including fishes in temperate areas. This said, however, understanding of how such a simple signal can dictate the time of gonadal recruitment and spawning, for example, is a complex task. Over the past few decades, many scientists attempted to unravel the roots of photoperiodic signalling in teleosts by investigating the role of melatonin in reproduction, but without great success. In fact, the hormone melatonin is recognized as the biological time-keeping hormone in fishes mainly due to the fact that it reflects the seasonal variation in daylength across the whole animal kingdom rather than the existence of direct evidences of its role in the entrainment of reproduction in fishes. Recently, however, some new studies clearly suggested that melatonin interacts with the reproductive cascade at a number of key steps such as through the dopaminergic system in the brain or the synchronization of the final oocyte maturation in the gonad. Interestingly, in the past few years, additional pathways have become apparent in the search for a fish photoneuroendocrine system including the clock-gene network and kisspeptin signalling and although research on these topics are still in their infancy, it is moving at great pace. This review thus aims to bring together the current knowledge on the photic control of reproduction mainly focusing on seasonal temperate fish species and shape the current working hypotheses supported by recent findings obtained in teleosts or based on knowledge gathered in mammalian and avian species. Four of the main potential regulatory systems (light perception, melatonin, clock genes and kisspeptin) in fish reproduction are reviewed.
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