Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Cichlid


The African cichlid Oreochromis mossambicus (Mozambique tilapia) has been used as a model system in a wide range of behavioural and neurobiological studies. The increasing number of genetic tools available for this species, together with the emerging interest in its use for neurobiological studies, increased the need for an accurate hodological mapping of the tilapia brain to supplement the available histological data. The goal of our study was to elaborate a three-dimensional, high-resolution digital atlas using magnetic resonance imaging, supported by Nissl staining. Resulting images were viewed and analysed in all orientations (transverse, sagittal, and horizontal) and manually labelled to reveal structures in the olfactory bulb, telencephalon, diencephalon, optic tectum, and cerebellum. This high resolution tilapia brain atlas is expected to become a very useful tool for neuroscientists using this fish model and will certainly expand their use in future studies regarding the central nervous system.

Concepts: Psychology, Magnetic resonance imaging, Tilapia, Nervous system, Central nervous system, Cichlid, Oreochromis, Brain


In this study, we show that the fish Nile tilapia displays an antipredator response to chemical cues present in the blood of conspecifics. This is the first report of alarm response induced by blood-borne chemical cues in fish. There is a body of evidence showing that chemical cues from epidermal ‘club’ cells elicit an alarm reaction in fish. However, the chemical cues of these ‘club’ cells are restricted to certain species of fish. Thus, as a parsimonious explanation, we assume that an alarm response to blood cues is a generalized response among animals because it occurs in mammals, birds and protostomian animals. Moreover, our results suggest that researchers must use caution when studying chemically induced alarm reactions because it is difficult to separate club cell cues from traces of blood.

Concepts: Camouflage, Gene, Organism, Animal, Fish, Cichlid, Tilapia, Chemical reaction


BACKGROUND: Tilapia is the common name for a group of cichlid fishes and is one of the most important aquacultured freshwater food fish. Mozambique tilapia and its hybrids, including red tilapia are main representatives of salt tolerant tilapias. A linkage map is an essential framework for mapping QTL for important traits, positional cloning of genes and understanding of genome evolution. RESULTS: We constructed a consensus linkage map of Mozambique tilapia and red tilapia using 95 individuals from two F1 families and 401 microsatellites including 282 EST-derived markers. In addition, we conducted comparative mapping and searched for sex-determining loci on the whole genome. These 401 microsatellites were assigned to 22 linkage groups. The map spanned 1067.6 cM with an average inter-marker distance of 3.3 cM. Comparative mapping between tilapia and stickleback, medaka, pufferfish and zebrafish revealed clear homologous relationships between chromosomes from different species. We found evidence for the fusion of two sets of two independent chromosomes forming two new chromosome pairs, leading to a reduction of 24 chromosome pairs in their ancestor to 22 pairs in tilapias. The XY sex determination locus in Mozambique tilapia was mapped on LG1, and verified in five families containing 549 individuals. The major XY sex determination locus in red tilapia was located on LG22, and verified in two families containing 275 individuals. CONCLUSIONS: A first-generation linkage map of salt tolerance tilapias was constructed using 401 microsatellites. Two separate fusions of two sets of two independent chromosomes may lead to a reduction of 24 chromosome pairs in their ancestor to 22 pairs in tilapias. The XY sex-determining loci from Mozambique tilapia and red tilapia were mapped on LG1 and LG22, respectively. This map provides a useful resource for QTL mapping for important traits and comparative genome studies. The DNA markers linked to the sex-determining loci could be used in the selection of YY males for breeding all-male populations of salt tolerant tilapia, as well as in studies on mechanisms of sex determination in fish.

Concepts: Y chromosome, Human, Cichlid, XY sex-determination system, Fish, Genetics, Gene, Chromosome


We conducted a 84-day nutritional feeding experiment with dried whole cells of DHA-rich marine microalga Schizochytrium sp. (Sc) to determine the optimum level of fish-oil substitution (partial or complete) for maximum growth of Nile tilapia. When we fully replaced fish oil with Schizochytrium (Sc100 diet), we found significantly higher weight gain and protein efficiency ratio (PER), and lower (improved) feed conversion ratio (FCR) and feed intake compared to a control diet containing fish oil (Sc0); and no significant change in SGR and survival rate among all diets. The Sc100 diet had the highest contents of 22:6n3 DHA, led to the highest DHA content in fillets, and consequently led to the highest DHA:EPA ratios in tilapia fillets. Schizochytrium sp. is a high quality candidate for complete substitution of fish oil in juvenile Nile tilapia feeds, providing an innovative means to formulate and optimize the composition of tilapia juvenile feed while simultaneously raising feed efficiency of tilapia aquaculture and to further develop environmentally and socially sustainable aquafeeds. Results show that replacing fish oil with DHA-rich marine Sc improves the deposition of n3 LC PUFA levels in tilapia fillet. These results support further studies to lower Schizochytrium production costs and to combine different marine microalgae to replace fish oil and fishmeal into aquafeeds.

Concepts: Aquaculture, Fat, Oreochromis niloticus, Omega-3 fatty acid, Oreochromis, Nutrition, Cichlid, Tilapia


The scale-eating cichlid Perissodus microlepis with asymmetric mouth is an attractive model of behavioral laterality: each adult tears off scales from prey fishes' left or right flanks according to the direction in which its mouth is skewed. To investigate the development of behavioral laterality and mouth asymmetry, we analyzed stomach contents and lower jaw-bone asymmetry of various-sized P. microlepis (22≤SL<115mm) sampled in Lake Tanganyika. The shapes of the pored scales found in each specimen's stomach indicated its attack side preference. Early-juvenile specimens (SL<45mm) feeding mainly on zooplankton exhibited slight but significant mouth asymmetry. As the fish acquired scale-eating (45mm≤SL), attack side preference was gradually strengthened, as was mouth asymmetry. Among size-matched individuals, those with more skewed mouths ate more scales. These findings show that behavioral laterality in scale-eating P. microlepis is established in association with development of mouth asymmetry which precedes the behavioral acquisition, and that this synergistic interaction between physical and behavioral literalities may contribute to efficient scale-eating.

Concepts: Zooplankton, Tropheus, Sample, Psychology, Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika, Fish, Cichlid


Teeth and taste buds are iteratively patterned structures that line the oro-pharynx of vertebrates. Biologists do not fully understand how teeth and taste buds develop from undifferentiated epithelium or how variation in organ density is regulated. These organs are typically studied independently because of their separate anatomical location in mammals: teeth on the jaw margin and taste buds on the tongue. However, in many aquatic animals like bony fishes, teeth and taste buds are colocalized one next to the other. Using genetic mapping in cichlid fishes, we identified shared loci controlling a positive correlation between tooth and taste bud densities. Genome intervals contained candidate genes expressed in tooth and taste bud fields. sfrp5 and bmper, notable for roles in Wingless (Wnt) and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling, were differentially expressed across cichlid species with divergent tooth and taste bud density, and were expressed in the development of both organs in mice. Synexpression analysis and chemical manipulation of Wnt, BMP, and Hedgehog (Hh) pathways suggest that a common cichlid oral lamina is competent to form teeth or taste buds. Wnt signaling couples tooth and taste bud density and BMP and Hh mediate distinct organ identity. Synthesizing data from fish and mouse, we suggest that the Wnt-BMP-Hh regulatory hierarchy that configures teeth and taste buds on mammalian jaws and tongues may be an evolutionary remnant inherited from ancestors wherein these organs were copatterned from common epithelium.

Concepts: Vertebrate, Gene, Bone, Biology, Animal, Cichlid, Fish, Tongue


Most contemporary studies of adaptive radiation focus on relatively recent and geographically restricted clades. It is less clear whether diversification of ancient clades spanning entire continents is consistent with adaptive radiation. We used novel fossil calibrations to generate a chronogram of Neotropical cichlid fishes and to test whether patterns of lineage and morphological diversification are congruent with hypothesized adaptive radiations in South and Central America. We found that diversification in the Neotropical cichlid clade and the highly diverse tribe Geophagini was consistent with diversity-dependent, early bursts of divergence followed by decreased rates of lineage accumulation. South American Geophagini underwent early rapid differentiation in body shape, expanding into novel morphological space characterized by elongate-bodied predators. Divergence in head shape attributes associated with trophic specialization evolved under strong adaptive constraints in all Neotropical cichlid clades. The South American Cichlasomatini followed patterns consistent with constant rates of morphological divergence. Although morphological diversification in South American Heroini was limited, Eocene invasion of Central American habitats was followed by convergent diversification mirroring variation observed in Geophagini. Diversification in Neotropical cichlids was influenced by the early adaptive radiation of Geophagini, which potentially limited differentiation in other cichlid clades.

Concepts: Evolution, Caribbean, Adaptive radiation, Americas, North America, Central America, Cichlid


Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) concentrations in sediment and fish from 12 principal rivers in Taiwan were investigated to determine their association with water quality parameters as well as the biota-sediment accumulation factor (BSAF) in fish with different living patterns. The highest PBDE concentration in sediment was found in the Bajhang River (261ngg(-1)dryweight (d.w.)) and the lowest in the Beinan River and the Da-an River (0.17ngg(-1)d.w.). The PBDE concentrations in fish samples ranged from 1.28ngg(-1)d.w. (Oreochromis niloticus niloticus) in the Yanshuei River to 33.7ngg(-1)d.w. (Varico rhinos barbatulus) in the Da-an River. We conclude that PBDEs contamination in sediment was significantly affected by NH(3)-N, pH, and DO. The BSAF results showed a parabolic trend from low- to high-brominated BDEs. Fish easily accumulated the congeners BDE-47, -100, -119, -126, and -154 from sediment. The BSAF decreased in the following order: PeBDE>HxBDE>TeBDE>other BDEs. Principle component analysis showed that demersal fish have different PBDE sources than do pelagic fish. We conclude that living and feeding habits are critical factors affecting PBDE accumulation in fish.

Concepts: Benthos, River, Polybrominated diphenyl ethers, Factor analysis, Oreochromis, Pelagic fish, Cichlid, Oreochromis niloticus


A redescription of Neoechinorhynchus (Neoechinorhynchus) golvani Salgado-Maldonado (An Inst Biol Univ Nal Autón Méx, Ser Zool 49:35-47, 1978) is presented, based on adult specimens collected from the type host Paraneetroplus fenestratus from the type location, the Lago de Catemaco lake, Veracruz state, Mexico, and its presence is recorded in other cichlids. Detailed studies of N. (N.) golvani using light microscopy revealed some taxonomically important, previously unreported features, such as the size and shape of fully developed adult males and females, and the structure of the eggs. Morphological variability in N. (N.) golvani is described. Based on these data, the geographic distribution of this species is documented. Neoechinorhynchus (Neoechinorhynchus) panucensis n. sp. is described from Herichthys labridens (Pellegrin), Amatitlania nigrofasciata (Günther), and Herichthys cyanoguttatus Baird and Girard (all of them Cichlidae), collected in the Río Atlapexco, a tributary to the upper Río Panuco basin, Hidalgo State, Mexico. This new species stand up alone because of its minute proboscis (♂ 50 × 60, ♀ 42-55 (48.5) × 48-63 (57.7)) and anterior hooks (♂ 27-30 (28.8) × 3-5 (4), ♀ 28-32 (30) × 5 (5)). A key to the species of Neoechinorhynchus recorded from freshwater fishes in Central and South America is included.

Concepts: Xalapa, Amatitlania, Hidalgo, Biology, Cichlasomatinae, Veracruz, Convict cichlid, Cichlid


The study was carried out to determine the levels of organochlorine pesticide residue in five fish species Chrysichthys nigrodigitatus, Hepsetus odoe, Tilapia zilli, Heterotis niloticus and Oreochromis niloticus from the Densu river basin (Weija) in Ghana. The fishes sampled from the Weija fish landing site were selected on the basis of their importance to local human fish consumption. The detectable organochlorine pesticides were γ-Hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH), δ-Hexachlorocyclohexane, aldrin and dieldrin. Others investigated were alpha endosulfan, endosulfan sulfate, p,p'-DDT and its metabolite p,p'-DDE, endrin and its metabolite endrin aldehyde and endrin ketone. The total contamination levels of the individual fishes varied in the decreasing order of 9.19 ng g(-1) (O. niloticus), 4.16 ng g(-1) (T. zilli), 3.69 ng g(-1) (C. nigrodigitatus), 3.68 ng g(-1) (H. odoe) and 3.09 ng g(-1) (H. niloticus). The highest organochlorine pesticide residue recorded in the study was alpha-endosulfan while dieldrin was the least pesticide observed. Analysis of variance indicated significant statistical differences for most organochlorine pesticide residues in the samples. The levels of organochlorine pesticides found in fish samples in the study were below maximum residue limit for food safety stipulated by EU, US FDA, FAO, Italy and Australia and thus safe for human consumption.

Concepts: Endrin, Tilapia, Pesticide residue, Hexachlorocyclopentadiene, Soil contamination, Cichlid, Insecticide, Pesticide