Research group

Group of Biology of Reproduction

Biology of Reproduction group

We focus on the intrinsic and environmental influences on fish reproduction

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The Group of Biology of Reproduction (GBR), established in 1997, is a dynamic and consolidated research group at ICM’s Dept. of Renewable Marine Resources in which the primary focus is on different aspects of fish reproduction. The specific objectives are: a) the study of the internal (genotype, physiological condition, age) and environmental (temperature, stress, pathogens) influences on the molecular mechanisms responsible for sexual development; b) the study of the interactions between the immune and reproductive systems; c) the development of markers indicative of exposure to abnormal environmental conditions, sex, age, stress response and health in fish, d) the development, in close cooperation with the private sector, of protocols for the control of reproduction in aquaculture; and e) the study of the evolution of different reproductive strategies in fishes of economic importance. To achieve these objectives, we use a wide of range of methods that include experiments in aquaria under controlled conditions, physiology, molecular, genomics, epigenomics, transcriptomic and metabolomic approaches, as well as phylogenetic comparative methods. The species we typically focus on are relevant for fish farming: European sea bass, turbot and Senegalese sole. The zebrafish is used as a model, and we have an extensive database on phylogenetic, ecological, life-history and reproductive-related aspects that covers thousands of fish species used to address evolutionary questions on sexual pattern evolution. The above-mentioned objectives are of great interest for the CSIC’s Agronomic Sciences and Natural Resources areas. The emphasis on epigenetic regulatory mechanisms is key to understand how the phenotype develops from genomic and environmental information, particularly in a context of global change. Understanding how reproduction is regulated is essential if we aim to bring it under our control in aquaculture. Finally, understanding reproductive variability is also important for conservation biology.

* Data from the last two years

Group members

Predoc Trainee


Most relevant information


    Group of Excellence, according to CSIC’s own evaluation carried out by external reviewers.

    Consolidated Research Group “Fish Physiology and Genomics: Applications to Aquaculture” funded by the Government of Catalonia since 2005. Coordinator: Francesc Piferrer.

    Publication in journals such as Bioessays, BMC Genomics, Molecular Ecology Resources, Epigenetics & Chromatin, Molecular Biology and Evolution, Nature Communications, PLoS Genetics, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, and Reviews in Aquaculture.

    Patents no. ES 2346122B1 “Method for the thermal control of sex ratios in the European sea bass”, and no. no. EP 18382646 “Method for predicting sex in fish” and development of the world’s first piscine epigenetic clock.

    The group received the Jacumar Prize for Best Research in Aquaculture in 2013, awarded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

    Francesc Piferrer became member of the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Barcelona in 2019 and received the Research Award 2020 of the College of Biologists of Catalonia, in recognition of his professional career and his contributions in the field of fish reproductive biology and epigenetics.



    • Anastasiadi, Dafni; Esteve-Codina, Anna; Piferrer, Francesc;

      Consistent inverse correlation between DNA methylation of the first intron and gene expression across tissues and species

      Epigenetics and Chromatin 11(1): 37 (2018)
    • Barrachina, Ferran; Anastasiadi, Dafni; Jodar, Meritxell; Castillo, Judit; Estanyol, Josep M.; Piferrer, Francesc; Olivar, Rafael;

      Identification of a complex population of chromatin-associated proteins in the European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) sperm

      Systems biology in reproductive medicine 64(6): 502-517 (2018)
    • Anastasiadi, Dafni; Vandeputte, M.; Sánchez Baizán, Núria; Piferrer, Francesc;

      Dynamic epimarks in sex-related genes predict gonad phenotype in the European sea bass, a fish with mixed genetic and environmental sex determination

      Epigenetics 13(9): 988-1011 (2018)