Zebrafish Anatomical Dictionary

Structure description: otolith

by Tanya Whitfield

Name: otolith

Abbreviation: None

Synonyms: None



Description: Stony accretions of crystalline calcium carbonate and protein. These develop over the anterior and posterior maculae in the ear and are tethered in place by a gelatinous otolithic membrane, into which the macular hair cells project. From 18-22h, many small crystalline particles are present throughout the lumen of the ear, where they are agitated and distributed by beating cilia. From 18.5h onwards, the particles coalesce to form the two otoliths; these initially appear as irregular clumps of material at the anterior and posterior ends of the otic vesicle. After 24h, few free particles are observed, and the otoliths grow in size, acquiring distinctive shapes and sizes during the larval period.



Parents (forms from): Supporting cells are thought to give rise to the correct milieu in which the otoliths can precipitate. Hair cells or non-sensory cell, may also play a role (see Haddon et al., 1999). Otoliths nucleate over hair cell precursors ("tether cells") at the anterior and posterior ends of the otic vesicle (Riley et al., 1997).


Group (member of):



Comments: None