ZFIN ID: ZDB-PUB-180405-2
The skeletal ontogeny of Astatotilapia burtoni - a direct-developing model system for the evolution and development of the teleost body plan
Woltering, J.M., Holzem, M., Schneider, R.F., Nanos, V., Meyer, A.
Date: 2018
Source: BMC Developmental Biology   18: 8 (Journal)
Registered Authors: Meyer, Axel
Keywords: Appendicular skeleton, Astatotilapia burtoni, Axial skeleton, Direct-development, Embryonic development, Evo-devo, Fin, Indirect-development, Teleost
MeSH Terms:
  • Animal Fins/anatomy & histology
  • Animal Fins/embryology
  • Animal Scales/anatomy & histology
  • Animal Scales/embryology
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Bone and Bones/anatomy & histology*
  • Cichlids/anatomy & histology*
  • Cichlids/embryology*
  • Embryonic Development
  • Models, Biological*
  • Osteogenesis
PubMed: 29614958 Full text @ BMC Dev. Biol.
The experimental approach to the evolution and development of the vertebrate skeleton has to a large extent relied on "direct-developing" amniote model organisms, such as the mouse and the chicken. These organisms can however only be partially informative where it concerns secondarily lost features or anatomical novelties not present in their lineages. The widely used anamniotes Xenopus and zebrafish are "indirect-developing" organisms that proceed through an extended time as free-living larvae, before adopting many aspects of their adult morphology, complicating experiments at these stages, and increasing the risk for lethal pleiotropic effects using genetic strategies.
Here, we provide a detailed description of the development of the osteology of the African mouthbrooding cichlid Astatotilapia burtoni, primarily focusing on the trunk (spinal column, ribs and epicentrals) and the appendicular skeleton (pectoral, pelvic, dorsal, anal, caudal fins and scales), and to a lesser extent on the cranium. We show that this species has an extremely "direct" mode of development, attains an adult body plan within 2 weeks after fertilization while living off its yolk supply only, and does not pass through a prolonged larval period.
As husbandry of this species is easy, generation time is short, and the species is amenable to genetic targeting strategies through microinjection, we suggest that the use of this direct-developing cichlid will provide a valuable model system for the study of the vertebrate body plan, particularly where it concerns the evolution and development of fish or teleost specific traits. Based on our results we comment on the development of the homocercal caudal fin, on shared ontogenetic patterns between pectoral and pelvic girdles, and on the evolution of fin spines as novelty in acanthomorph fishes. We discuss the differences between "direct" and "indirect" developing actinopterygians using a comparison between zebrafish and A. burtoni development.