The Mediterranean swordfish (Xiphias gladius) has been recently classified as overfished and in 2016, the International Commission for the Conservation of the Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) established a multi-annual management plan to recover this stock. To successfully achieve this goal, knowledge about swordfish biology is needed. To date, few studies on swordfish have been performed and none of them has provided useful insights into the reproductive biology at molecular level. Here we set to characterise the molecular dynamics underlying ovarian maturation by employing a de novo transcriptome assembly approach. Differential gene expression analysis in mature and immature ovaries identified a number of differentially expressed genes associated with biological processes driving ovarian maturation. Focusing on ovarian steroidogenesis and vitellogenin uptake, we depict the molecular dynamics characterizing these processes while a phylogenetic analysis let us identify a candidate vitellogenin receptor. This is the first swordfish transcriptome assembly and these findings provide in-depth understanding of molecular processes describing ovarian maturation. Moreover, the establishment of a publicly available database containing information on the swordfish transcriptome aims to boost research on this species with the long-term of developing more comprehensive and successful stock management plans.
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