The reproductive strategy for avian species that produce a sequence (or clutch) of eggs is dependent upon the maintenance of a small cohort of viable, undifferentiated (prehierarchal) follicles. It is from this cohort that a single follicle is selected on an approximate daily basis to initiate rapid growth and final differentiation before ovulation. This review describes a working model in which follicles within this prehierarchal cohort are maintained in an undifferentiated state by inhibitory cell signaling until the time of selection. Ultimately, follicle selection represents a process in which a single undifferentiated follicle per day is predicted to escape such inhibitory mechanisms to begin rapid growth and final maturation before ovulation. Several processes initiated within the granulosa cell layer at selection are dependent upon G protein-coupled receptors signaling via cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), and several critical processes are described herein. Finally, reference is made to several practical outcomes that can result from understanding the process of selection, including applications within the poultry industry. Proximal factors and processes that mediate follicle selection can either extend or decrease the length of the laying sequence, and thus directly influence overall egg production. In particular, any aberration that results in the selection of more than one follicle per day will result in decreased egg production. More generally, in wild birds these processes are modified by prevailing environmental conditions and by social interactions to influence clutch size. The elucidation of cellular processes that regulate follicle selection can assist in the development of assisted reproductive technologies for application in threatened and endangered avian species.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Animal Science and Zoology