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Evodevo. 2014 Oct 3;5:35. doi: 10.1186/2041-9139-5-35. eCollection 2014.

Enhanced prey capture skills in Astyanax cavefish larvae are independent from eye loss.

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School of Science, Marist College, 3399 North Rd, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601 USA.
Equipe Développement Evolution du Cerveau Antérieur, UPR3294 N&D, CNRS, Institut Alfred Fessard, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette, France.
Department of Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, MA 02543 USA.



Enhanced food-finding efficiency is an obvious adaptive response to cave environments. Here, we have compared the food-finding abilities of Astyanax surface fish and blind cavefish young larvae in their first month of life, in the dark.


Our results show that enhanced prey capture skills of cavefish are already in effect in fry soon after the yolk is depleted and the young larvae must find food for themselves. Moreover, using prey capture competition assays on surface fish fry with lensectomies, we showed that eye-dependent developmental processes are not the main determinant for enhanced prey capture skills. Finally, using F2 hybrid larvae resulting from crosses between surface fish and cavefish, we found that reduced eyes do not confer a selective advantage for prey capture by fry in the dark.


We discuss these data with regards to our current developmental and genetic understanding of cavefish morphological and behavioral evolution.


Astyanax; Cavefish; Lensectomy; Prey capture; Troglomorphy

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