alexa Annual fish: developmental adaptations for an extreme environment.
Molecular Biology

Molecular Biology

Cell & Developmental Biology

Author(s): Berois N, Arezo MJ, Papa NG, Clivio GA

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Abstract Annual fish are freshwater teleosts found in South America and Africa that are exposed to an extremely variable environment. They develop and reproduce in seasonal ponds that dry during the summer eliminating the entire adult population. Remarkably, desiccation-resistant embryos survive in these dry ponds that hatch during the next rainy season when the ponds are recreated. Among vertebrates, they represent one of the most remarkable extremophiles. They share several features with other fish models; however, they exhibit unique traits related to their peculiar life cycle. Epiboly is temporally and spatially uncoupled from organogenesis, and the embryos can undergo reversible developmental arrests (diapauses). These attributes make them a useful model to study diverse topics in developmental biology using a comparative and evolutionary approach. In this article, different aspects related to annual fish biology, taxonomy and phylogenetic considerations, reproductive strategy, and developmental characteristics with special focus on arrests, are summarized. The current challenge is to document and determine the factors that generate such high diversity and unique adaptations of annual fish. To understand this complexity, interdisciplinary approaches are being employed taking into consideration evolutionary biology, ethology, reproductive strategies, regulation of developmental mechanisms, and senescence. Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. This article was published in Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol and referenced in Cell & Developmental Biology

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