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J Fish Biol. 2009 Dec;75(9):2287-98. doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8649.2009.02447.x.

Normal development of the tomato clownfish Amphiprion frenatus: live imaging and in situ hybridization analyses of mesodermal and neurectodermal development.

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School of Biosciences, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4PS, UK.


The normal embryonic development of the tomato clownfish Amphiprion frenatus was analysed using live imaging and by in situ hybridization for detection of mesodermal and neurectodermal development. Both morphology of live embryos and tissue-specific staining revealed significant differences in the gross developmental programme of A. frenatus compared with better-known teleost fish models, in particular, initiation of somitogenesis before complete epiboly, initiation of narrowing of the neurectoderm (neurulation) before somitogenesis, relatively early pigmentation of melanophores at the 10-15 somite stage and a distinctive pattern of melanophore distribution. These results suggest evolutionary adaptability of the teleost developmental programme. The ease of obtaining eggs, in vitro culture of the embryo, in situ staining analyses and these reported characteristics make A. frenatus a potentially important model marine fish species for studying embryonic development, physiology, ecology and evolution.

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