Research group

Reproductive Physiology and Environmental Epigenetics

Fisiologia de la Reproducció i Epigenètica Ambiental

We investigate internal and environmental factors regulating fish reproduction

Default Image

We investigate the reproductive physiology of fish, focusing on sex determination and differentiation, regulation of sperm production and male function. We characterize the internal and environmental influences on these key processes for species survival. The main lines of current research are:

  1. Sex determination. Study of the genetic, epigenetic and environmental influences that govern the process of sex determination and differentiation in fish.
  2. Environmental epigenetics. Study of the intrinsic and extrinsic influences on the establishment, inheritance and reprogramming of epigenetic marks.
  3. Sexual systems. Study of the selective forces that explain the distribution and evolutionary transitions between the main sexual systems found in fishes.
  4. Synchronization of spermatogenesis. We develop biotechnological tools to counteract the low sperm production of many cultured flatfish, which is an obstacle to in vitro fertilization methods in aquaculture.
  5. Molecular endocrinology of spermiogenesis. We investigate the molecular basis of spermiogenesis with the aim of increasing both sperm quantity and quality.

We use an approach that includes both classical physiology and endocrinology as well as cellular and molecular biology, genomics, epigenomics and transcriptomics. Understanding how reproduction is regulated is essential if we want to control it in aquaculture. Finally, understanding reproductive variability is also important for conservation biology.

The group has a strong international projection and has several publications in high impact journals such as Nature Communications, PNAS, PLoS Genetics and Molecular Biology and Evolution.

* Data from 2021

Group members


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 Generalitat de Catalunya since 2005.

    Francesc Piferrer is editor of the 41-chapter, 888-page book "Sex Control in Aquaculture", published in 2019 by Wiley-Blackwell (ISBN: 978-1-119-12726-0), considered one of the best aquaculture books of all time by Bookauthority.

    The group is involved in various outreach activities. Its work has been reported on radio, television, newspapers and magazines in different countries (The Globe and Mail, National Geographic, CNN, Time).

    The group collaborates or has collaborated with the main aquaculture companies in Spain and some abroad, and has generated patents ES 2346122B1 "Method for thermal control of sex ratios in sea bass", EP 18.382.646 "Method for predicting of sex in fish" and has developed the world's first epigenetic clock in fish.

    Francesc Piferrer received the Jacumar prize for the best research in aquaculture in 2013, awarded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.



    • Chauvigné, François; Ollé, Judith; González, Wendy; Duncan, Neil; Giménez, Ignacio; Cerdà, Joan;

      Toward developing recombinant gonadotropin-based hormone therapies for increasing fertility in the flatfish Senegalese sole

      PLoS ONE 12(3): e0174387 (2017)
    • Anastasiadi, Dafni; Piferrer, Francesc;

      Epimutations in Developmental Genes Underlie the Onset of Domestication in Farmed European Sea Bass

    • Geffroy, Benjamin; Besson, Mathieu; Sánchez Baizán, Núria; Clota, Frederic; Goikoetxea, Alexander; Sadoul, Bastien; Ruelle, François; Blanc, Marie-Odile; Parrinello, Hugues; Hermet, Sophie; Blondeau-Bidet, Eva; Pratlong, Marine; Piferrer, Francesc; Vandeputte, Marc; Allal, François;

      Unraveling the genotype by environment interaction in a thermosensitive fish with a polygenic sex determination system

    • Pla Quirante, Susanna; Benvenuto, Chiara; Capellini, Isabella; Piferrer, Francesc;

      Switches, stability and reversals: the evolutionary history of sexual systems in fish