The effect of rearing temperature on body shape and meristic characters in zebrafish (Danio rerio) juveniles

  • Dimitris G. Sfakianakis
  • Ioannis Leris
  • Anastasia Laggis
  • Maroudio Kentouri


Although zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a highly studied organism on many fields of research, many aspects of its basic biology still elude the scientific community. Its response to temperature - especially developmental one - has been very scarcely studied and this is an important lack of knowledge since the species is considered quite eurythermal in nature. In the present study, zebrafish was subjected to four different developmental temperatures (22, 25, 28 and 31°C) from the half-epiboly stage until after metamorphosis in order to examine whether the temperature can influence the juvenile’s phenotype. Morphometric and meristic characters were explored. Body shape and almost all of the meristic characters studied were significantly affected by the temperature applied during the first stages of development. Most meristic characters of the study, presented a significant differentiation in the extreme temperatures used (22 and/or 31°C), whereas lower temperatures seemed to produce higher meristic counts in the majority of the characters. Zebrafish juveniles, as shown in this study, exhibit highly variable phenotypes (phenotypic plasticity) induced by diverse thermal conditions during their early ontogenetic stages possibly in order to successfully adjust to different environments.


Temperature Zebrafish Meristic Body shape Morphology Larval rearing 



The authors thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments in producing the final manuscript. The present study was financed by the European Social Fund and National Resources (EPEAEK II–PYTHAGORAS I) to M.K.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dimitris G. Sfakianakis
    • 1
  • Ioannis Leris
    • 1
    • 2
  • Anastasia Laggis
    • 1
  • Maroudio Kentouri
    • 1
  1. 1.Biology DepartmentUniversity of CreteHeraklionGreece
  2. 2.Behavioural Biology, Department of Biology and Helmholtz InstituteUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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