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Laterality. 2012;17(6):741-54. doi: 10.1080/1357650X.2011.626563. Epub 2012 Jan 3.

Inheritance patterns of morphological laterality in mouth opening of zebrafish, Danio rerio.

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  • 1Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Ehime University, Ehime, Japan.


The inheritance patterns of asymmetry in mouth opening in zebrafish were investigated using crossing experiments. Zebrafish exhibit asymmetric laterality in mouth opening, with each individual having either a leftward (righty) or rightward (lefty) bias. All righty incrosses produced only righty F(1), whereas all lefty incrosses resulted in an F(1) L:R ratio of 2:1. All test crosses between lefty and righty individuals resulted in an F(1) L:R=1:1. These results were consistent with the hereditary pattern for Japanese medaka, three Tanganyikan cichlids, and a Japanese riverine goby. The pattern suggests a one-locus two-allele Mendelian model of inheritance, with the lefty allele being dominant over righty and the dominant homozygote being lethal. To determine the reason for the absence of lefty homozygotes, the survival rates of the offspring were examined according to developmental stage. Survival did not differ among combinations of parent laterality. Thus the mechanism underlying the lethality of the dominant homozygote remains unclear. This study showed that the mouth-opening laterality of zebrafish is genetically determined and that the direction follows a Mendelian inheritance pattern that is shared among cypriniform zebrafish, beloniform medaka, perciform cichlids, and a goby, suggesting a common genetic background in mouth-opening laterality among these species.

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