ZFIN ID: ZDB-LAB-150226-1
Research Group: Evolutionary Developmental Biology
Co-PI / Senior
Witten, P. Eckhard
Contact Person: Witten, P. Eckhard
Email: PEckhardWitten@aol.com
Address: Ghent University Department of Biology. Ledeganckstraat 35 B-9000 Ghent Belgium
Country: Belgium
Phone: +32 9 264 52 29
Fax: +32 9 264 53 44
Line Designation: None assigned


Research focuses on development, plasticity, and remodeling of skeletal tissues; in particular bone, cartilage and teeth. Processes are analyzed in a comparative developmental and evolutionary context. Zebrafish is the most commonly model for this research. Current projects concern (a) basic developmental and evolutionary processes related to tooth and vertebral column formation (b) the prevention farmed fish from developing skeletal malformations and (c) the study human skeletal disease on zebrafish and medaka models.


Cotti, S., Huysseune, A., Koppe, W., Rücklin, M., Marone, F., Wölfel, E.M., Fiedler, I.A.K., Busse, B., Forlino, A., Witten, P.E. (2020) More Bone with Less Minerals? The Effects of Dietary Phosphorus on the Post-Cranial Skeleton in Zebrafish. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 21(15):
Oralová, V., Rosa, J.T., Larionova, D., Witten, P.E., Huysseune, A. (2020) Multiple epithelia are required to develop teeth deep inside the pharynx. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 117(21):11503-11512
Bek, J.W., De Clercq, A., De Saffel, H., Soenens, M., Huysseune, A., Witten, P.E., Coucke, P., Willaert, A. (2020) Photoconvertible fluorescent proteins: A versatile tool in zebrafish skeletal imaging. Journal of Fish Biology. 98(4):1007-1017
Tonelli, F., Cotti, S., Leoni, L., Besio, R., Gioia, R., Marchese, L., Giorgetti, S., Villani, S., Gistelinck, C., Wagener, R., Kobbe, B., Larionova, D., Fiedler, I.A.K., Busse, B., Eyre, D., Rossi, A., Witten, P.E., Forlino, A. (2020) Crtap and p3h1 knock out zebrafish support defective collagen chaperoning as the cause of their osteogenesis imperfecta phenotype. Matrix biology : journal of the International Society for Matrix Biology. 90:40-60
Printzi, A., Fragkoulis, S., Dimitriadi, A., Keklikoglou, K., Arvanitidis, C., Witten, P.E., Koumoundouros, G. (2019) Exercise induced lordosis in zebrafish Danio rerio (Hamilton, 1822). Journal of Fish Biology. 98(4):987-994
Oralová, V., Rosa, J.T., Soenens, M., Bek, J.W., Willaert, A., Witten, P.E., Huysseune, A. (2019) Beyond the whole-mount phenotype: high-resolution imaging in fluorescence-based applications on zebrafish. Biology Open. 8(5):
De Clercq, A., Perrott, M.R., Davie, P.S., Preece, M.A., Owen, M.A.G., Huysseune, A., Witten, P.E. (2018) Temperature sensitive regions of the Chinook salmon vertebral column: Vestiges and meristic variation. Journal of morphology. 279(9):1301-1311
Christou, M., Iliopoulou, M., Witten, P.E., Koumoundouros, G. (2018) Segmentation pattern of zebrafish caudal fin is affected by developmental temperature and defined by multiple fusions between segments. Journal of experimental zoology. Part B, Molecular and developmental evolution. 330(6-7):330-340
Gistelinck, C., Kwon, R.Y., Malfait, F., Symoens, S., Harris, M.P., Henke, K., Hawkins, M.B., Fisher, S., Sips, P., Guillemyn, B., Bek, J.W., Vermassen, P., De Saffel, H., Witten, P.E., Weis, M., De Paepe, A., Eyre, D.R., Willaert, A., Coucke, P.J. (2018) Zebrafish type I collagen mutants faithfully recapitulate human type I collagenopathies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 115(34):E8037-E8046
Woltmann,I., Shkil, F., De Clercq, A., Huysseune, A., and Witten, P. E. (2018) Supernumerary teeth in the pharyngeal dentition of slow‐developing zebrafish (Danio rerio, Hamilton, 1822). Zeitschrift fur angewandte Ichthyologie = Journal of applied ichthyology.
Suniaga, S., Rolvien, T., Vom Scheidt, A., Fiedler, I.A.K., Bale, H.A., Huysseune, A., Witten, P.E., Amling, M., Busse, B. (2018) Increased mechanical loading through controlled swimming exercise induces bone formation and mineralization in adult zebrafish. Scientific Reports. 8:3646
Kague, E., Witten, P.E., Soenens, M., Campos, C.L., Lubiana, T., Fisher, S., Hammond, C., Brown, K.R., Passos-Bueno, M.R., Huysseune, A. (2018) Zebrafish sp7 mutants show tooth cycling independent of attachment, eruption and poor differentiation of teeth. Developmental Biology. 435(2):176-184
De Clercq, A., Perrott, M.R., Davie, P.S., Preece, M.A., Huysseune, A., Witten, P.E. (2017) The external phenotype-skeleton link in post-hatch farmed Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Journal of fish diseases. 41(3):511-527
De Clercq, A., Perrott, M.R., Davie, P.S., Preece, M.A., Wybourne, B., Ruff, N., Huysseune, A., Witten, P.E. (2017) Vertebral column regionalisation in Chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha. Journal of anatomy. 231(4):500-514
Tan, W.H., Witten, P.E., Winkler, C., Au, D.W.T., Huysseune, A. (2017) Telomerase Expression in Medaka ( Oryzias melastigma) Pharyngeal Teeth. Journal of dental research. 96:678-684
Yu, T., Graf, M., Renn, J., Schartl, M., Larionova, D., Huysseune, A., Witten, P.E., Winkler, C. (2017) A vertebrate-specific and essential role for osterix in osteogenesis revealed by gene knockout in the teleost medaka. Development (Cambridge, England). 144:265-271
Witten, P.E., Harris, M.P., Huysseune, A., Winkler, C. (2017) Small teleost fish provide new insights into human skeletal diseases. Methods in cell biology. 138:321-346
Gistelinck, C., Gioia, R., Gagliardi, A., Tonelli, F., Marchese, L., Bianchi, L., Landi, C., Bini, L., Huysseune, A., Witten, P.E., Staes, A., Gevaert, K., De Rocker, N., Menten, B., Malfait, F., Leikin, S., Carra, S., Tenni, R., Rossi, A., De Paepe, A., Coucke, P., Willaert, A., Forlino, A. (2016) Zebrafish Collagen Type I: Molecular and Biochemical Characterization of the Major Structural Protein in Bone and Skin. Scientific Reports. 6:21540
Bensimon-Brito, A., Cardeira, J., Dionísio, G., Huysseune, A., Cancela, M.L., Witten, P.E. (2016) Revisiting in vivo staining with alizarin red S - a valuable approach to analyse zebrafish skeletal mineralization during development and regeneration. BMC Developmental Biology. 16:2
Symoens, S., Barnes, A.M., Gistelinck, C., Malfait, F., Guillemyn, B., Steyaert, W., Syx, D., D'hondt, S., Biervliet, M., De Backer, J., Witten, E.P., Leikin, S., Makareeva, E., Gillessen-Kaesbach, G., Huysseune, A., Vleminckx, K., Willaert, A., De Paepe, A., Marini, J.C., Coucke, P.J. (2015) Genetic Defects in TAPT1 Disrupt Ciliogenesis and Cause a Complex Lethal Osteochondrodysplasia. American journal of human genetics. 97(4):521-34
Willems, B., Tao, S., Yu, T., Huysseune, A., Witten, P.E., Winkler, C. (2015) The Wnt Co-Receptor Lrp5 Is Required for Cranial Neural Crest Cell Migration in Zebrafish. PLoS One. 10:e0131768
Bruneel, B., Witten, P.E. (2015) Power and challenges of using zebrafish as a model for skeletal tissue imaging. Connective tissue research. 56(2):161-73
Gabor, K.A., Goody, M.F., Mowel, W.K., Breitbach, M.E., Gratacap, R.L., Witten, P.E., Kim, C.H. (2014) Influenza a virus infection in zebrafish recapitulates mammalian infection and sensitivity to anti-influenza drug treatment. Disease models & mechanisms. 7(11):1227-37
Harris, M.P., Henke, K., Hawkins, M.B., Witten, P.E. (2014) Fish is Fish: the use of experimental model species to reveal causes of skeletal diversity in evolution and disease. Zeitschrift fur angewandte Ichthyologie = Journal of applied ichthyology. 30:616-629
Bensimon-Brito, A., Cardeira, J., Cancela, L., Huysseune, A., and Witten, E. (2012) Distinct patterns of notochord mineralization in zebrafish coincide with the localization of Osteocalcin isoform 1 during early vertebral centra formation. BMC Developmental Biology. 12(1):28
Bensimon-Brito, A., Cancela, M.L., Huysseune, A., and Witten, P.E. (2012) Vestiges, rudiments and fusion events: the zebrafish caudal fin endoskeleton in an evo-devo perspective. Evolution & development. 14(1):116-127
Dewit, J., Witten, P.E., and Huysseune, A. (2011) The mechanism of cartilage subdivision in the reorganization of the zebrafish pectoral fin endoskeleton. Journal of experimental zoology. Part B, Molecular and developmental evolution. 316(8):584-97
Apschner, A., Schulte-Merker, S., and Witten, P.E. (2011) Not All Bones are Created Equal - Using Zebrafish and Other Teleost Species in Osteogenesis Research. Methods in cell biology. 105:239-255
Dewit, J., Witten, P. E., Willems, M., Huysseune, A. (2010) The distribution of fibronectin in developing zebrafish (Danio rerio) cartilage. Zeitschrift fur angewandte Ichthyologie = Journal of applied ichthyology. 26(2):205-209
Bensimon-Brito, A., Cancela, M. L., Huysseune, A., Witten, P. E. (2010) The zebrafish (Danio rerio) caudal complex – a model to study vertebral body fusion. Zeitschrift fur angewandte Ichthyologie = Journal of applied ichthyology. 26(2):235-238
Witten, P.E., and Huysseune, A. (2009) A comparative view on mechanisms and functions of skeletal remodelling in teleost fish, with special emphasis on osteoclasts and their function. Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society. 84(2):315-346
Phelan, P.E., Pressley, M.E., Witten, P.E., Mellon, M.T., Blake, S., and Kim, C.H. (2005) Characterization of Snakehead Rhabdovirus Infection in Zebrafish (Danio rerio). Journal of virology. 79(3):1842-1852
Pressley, M.E., Phelan, P.E. 3rd, Witten, P. Eckhard, Mellon, M.T., and Kim, C.H. (2005) Pathogenesis and inflammatory response to Edwardsiella tarda infection in the zebrafish. Developmental and comparative immunology. 29(6):501-513
Witten, P.E., Hansen, A., and Hall, B.K. (2001) Features of mono- and multinucleated bone resorbing cells of the zebrafish Danio rerio and their contribution to skeletal development, remodeling, and growth. Journal of morphology. 250(3):197-207