Impact of Environmental and Genetic Factors on the Scale Shape of Zebrafish, Danio rerio (Hamilton 1822): A Geometric Morphometric Study


Intraspecific morphological variability may reflect either genetic divergence among groups of individuals or response of individuals to environmental circumstances within the frame of phenotypic plasticity. Several studies were able to discriminate wild fish populations based on their scale shape. Here we examine whether the variations in the scale shape in fish populations could be related to genetic or environmental factors, or to both of them. In the first experiment, two inbred lines of zebrafish, Danio rerio (Hamilton 1822) reared under identical environmental conditions were compared. Secondly, to find out what effect environmental factors might have, offsprings were divided into two groups and reared on different diets for 12 weeks. Potential recovery of scales from an environmental effect was also assessed. Experimental groups could successfully be distinguished according to the shape of scales in both experiments, and the results showed that both genetic and environmental factors may notably influence scale shape. It was concluded that scale shape analysis might be used as an explanatory tool to detect potential variability of environmental influences impacting genetically homogeneous groups of fish. However, due to its sensitivity to environmental heterogeneity, the applicability of this technique in identifying intraspecific stock membership of fish could be limited.


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This work was financially supported by the research funding programme “KMOP-1.1.1-09/1-2009-0048” National Office for Research and Technology of Hungary, “Sustainable conservation on Hungarian Natura 2000 Sites-SH/4/8” Swiss Contribution to Hungary, “KMR-12-1-2012-0221” and Bolyai János research grant by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences - “BO/00054/12/4”.

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Staszny, Á., Havas, E., Kovács, R. et al. Impact of Environmental and Genetic Factors on the Scale Shape of Zebrafish, Danio rerio (Hamilton 1822): A Geometric Morphometric Study. BIOLOGIA FUTURA 64, 462–475 (2013).

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  • Landmark-based geometric morphometrics
  • phenotypic plasticity
  • shape analysis